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Gathering Evidence to Inform Neighbourhood Plan Preparation

The evidence you need will depend on what you want your plan to do. To start, find out what people in the local community value about the area and make a list of the heritage assets. Our guidance will help you gather further evidence such as making character and archaeological assessments of the area or conducting a survey of buildings at risk.

Your plan objectives inform the evidence you need

As confirmed by the Government’s Planning Practice Guidance (PPG), there is no ‘tick box’ list of evidence for neighbourhood planning. This means that the evidence you need to collect will depend on what you want your plan to do.

Before embarking on a neighbourhood plan, there is value in fully understanding what it is the community values or would like to improve about their local area. Steps to promote active engagement can also help to maintain interest and support for the plan (and its agenda or policies) as it progresses.

Many neighbourhood plan groups start by constructing a list of all the designated heritage assets in their area. You may also wish to identify other previously unidentified heritage assets during the plan-making process, such as sites, areas, places and landscapes, which can be captured in a list of locally-valued heritage assets.

Our advice note (forthcoming) offers further guidance on existing sources of evidence. Once you have identified the information available, if the information available is not telling you all you need to know, there are a range of further actions that you may need to undertake. The following subsections are also explored in more detail in our advice note.

Character assessment

Character assessment is an area or place-based assessment that sets out the area’s defining positive characteristics. It also identifies the features that contribute to local distinctiveness. It can be an important building block in your evidence base, particularly if your plan is to include policies that inform the design of new development.

Undertaking a local building at risk survey

In addition to finding out about what people value in your area, you may wish to undertake a local building at risk survey to inform your plan. A register of local buildings at risk is likely to look similar to the Heritage at Risk Register published by Historic England.

Archaeological assessment

An archaeological statement would usually present an overview of the area’s pre-history, history and archaeological potential. It does not necessarily need to be a standalone document and can, for example, be integrated within a heritage topic paper or wider site assessment.

Colour photo of volunteer sitting by a test-pit in a field overlooking the sea
Test-pitting during the North-East Yorkshire Mesolithic project was undertaken by volunteers working with Tees Archaeology. © Tees Archaeology and North York Moors National Park
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