Setting of Heritage Assets

Setting is defined in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) as "The surroundings in which a heritage asset is experienced. Its extent is not fixed and may change as the asset and its surroundings evolve. Elements of a setting may make a positive or negative contribution to the significance of the asset, may affect the ability to appreciate that significance or may be neutral." (ref. 1)

The setting itself is not designated. Every heritage asset, whether designated or not has a setting. Its importance, and therefore the degree of protection it is offered in planning decisions, depends entirely on the contribution it makes to the significance of the heritage asset or its appreciation.

No additional consent is required to alter the setting of any heritage asset. Works may require planning permission and additionally new works within the setting of a listed building or scheduled monument may require listed building consent or scheduled monument consent, as appropriate, if they physically attach to or physically impact upon the building or site.

The setting of a World Heritage Site is not to be confused with its buffer zone, if it has one. A buffer zone is a discrete area to which a particular policy or guideline applies in order generally to protect the setting. The setting itself is likely to be a larger area and will vary from time to time.

Historic England has produced guidance on managing change within the setting of heritage assets (ref. 2).


(1) Annex 2: Glossary, National Planning Policy Framework, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, July 2021

(2) Good Practice Advice in Planning - Note 3 - The setting of Heritage Assets (Second Edition). Published 22 December 2017