View of the skyline of London showing Tower Bridge, the 'Gherkin' building and HMS Belfast (DP040482)

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View of the skyline of London showing Tower Bridge, the 'Gherkin' building and HMS Belfast (DP040482) © Historic England

Advice and Research for Place-Making and Design

Place-making is the process we use to shape our public spaces and buildings. In the advice and research below, Historic England advises on a wide range of issues relating to place-making and design:

We are currently reviewing our advice in light of the changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, and will amend it, where necessary, in due course.

Place-making strategy

Historic places both reflect and shape who we are, bringing our history to life and telling the story of our collective identity. The Historic England Places Strategy sets out how we will help communities to transform the places they love, using the historic environment to deliver public value and demonstrating the catalytic effect it can have for good.

The Strategy has been put together following conversations widely across Historic England and with external partners including Arts Council England, Homes England, and key government departments, the British Property Federation, the RIBA and Design Council (CABE). It has also benefited greatly from the substantial input from the Historic England Urban Panel.

Heritage: the foundation for success

A small selection of case studies from successful developments with heritage at their core, which demonstrate the social, environmental and particularly economic benefits of historic places.

The setting of historic assets

The significance of a historic place derives not only from its physical presence and historic fabric but also from its setting - the surroundings in which it is experienced.

The careful management of change within the surroundings of heritage assets therefore makes an important contribution to the quality of the places in which we live.

Historic Environment Good Practice Advice Note: The Setting of Heritage Assets (GPA 3) is aimed at local planning authorities and others proposing change. It explains the concept of setting and provides clear advice on how to address and respond to setting issues.

Tall buildings

In the right place, well-designed tall buildings can make a positive contribution to urban life. Ill-considered proposals meanwhile can have a disproportionate impact on the character, appearance and enjoyment of places.

Historic England's advice on tall buildings sets out good practice in deciding whether to grant planning permission for this kind of application.

This document is intended to support all those involved in dealing with proposals for tall buildings.

Good growth

Translating Good Growth for London's Historic Environment demonstrates that heritage-led regeneration and heritage-inspired design bring a host of benefits. They create interesting buildings, spaces and places. They also create jobs, increase footfall to areas, and boost communities' well-being. And they can be more environmentally sustainable. This study illustrates best practice, and the benefits of combining protection and enhancement of historic assets with innovative and creative solutions.

Conservation areas

Conservation areas are particularly special places. Our advice sets out ways to manage change in a way that conserves and enhances historic areas through conservation area designation, appraisal and management.

It's intended to offer advice to all those involved in managing conservation areas so that the potential of historic areas worthy of protection is fully realised. It examines the need for community and owner consultation. It also explores the benefits of management plans to manage change and achieve regeneration and enhancement.

Understanding place

We use Historic Area Assessments (HAAs) to understand and explain the heritage interest of an area. Our advice explains how to carry out an HAA.

HAAs typically give insights into how and why a place has come to look the way it does. They provide a sound evidence base for the informed management of the historic environment. HAAs are part of a suite of approaches to assessing the character of historic places at different scales.

Building in context

Building in Context started life as a series of case studies and toolkit designed to stimulate high standards of design for developments in historically sensitive contexts. It was devised in collaboration between Historic England, CABE (now Design Council CABE) and consultants Design: South East, and identified good development as that which responds well to the historic character of what is already there and has related the new buildings to its surroundings. The material is now hosted independently on the Building in Context website.

Eight principles of design underpin the Building in Context approach. These are that a successful project will:

  1. Start with an assessment of the value of retaining what is there
  2. Relate to the geography and history of the place and lie of the land
  3. Be informed by its own significance so that its character and identity will be appropriate to its use and context
  4. Sit happily in the pattern of existing development and the routes through and around it
  5. Respect important views
  6. Respect the scale of neighbouring buildings
  7. Use materials and building methods which are as high quality as those used in existing buildings
  8. Create new views and juxtapositions which add to the variety and texture of the setting
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