Deciding how to deal with a planning application that affects a heritage asset or a listed building, conservation area or scheduled monument consent application can be difficult enough given the variety of heritage assets. It is further complicated by the different rules that must be applied to the facts in each case.
The rules were greatly simplified by the introduction of PPS5 (1) that took a unified policy approach to all heritage assets. This was carried forward into the NPPF(2) but some complication still remains. The overall position is as follows:
1. NPPF policies all apply to not only planning decisions but also listed building consent decisions.
2. Scheduled monument consent decisions are not affected by the NPPF, but there are similar policies set out in a DCMS policy document entitled simply "Scheduled Monuments" (October 2013) (3). Any planning decisions that affect scheduled monuments are subject to the NPPF though.
3. Policies within the development plan are also directly relevant to planning decisions affecting heritage assets, but they are not by law directly applicable to listed building consent decisions. The aspirations for the locality that they embody may well still be material to those other consent decisions.
4. For listed buildings and conservation areas there are statutory requirements to take into account the desirability of conserving them (and, in the case of listed buildings, their setting) that apply to all relevant planning and listed building and conservation area consent decisions (4).
5. The Planning Practice Guidance supports the NPPF policies and also Historic England guidance does not have to be slavishly followed, but the advice these documents contain, if followed, would achieve the policy objectives. So using another means, which is not in accordance with guidance, should be shown to be equally as good at achieving the desired outcome that the law and policy seeks.
6. The government has published its online Planning Practice Guidance to assist in applying the NPPF.
The following sub-sections deal with each of these ingredients to a decision.