Historic England's Role

The Neighbourhood Planning Regulations require you to consult Historic England on your pre-submission plan, otherwise termed the Regulation 14 Consultation, when our interests would be affected. Given the presence of heritage assets in every part of the country this means that Historic England are consulted on most plans at this stage.

With neighbourhood plans being prepared by many communities across England, we will target our resources on proposals with the potential for major change to nationally important heritage assets and their settings. However, our local offices may also advise communities where they wish to engage directly with the plan’s development, depending on local priorities and capacity.

Pre-submission consultation

At theRegulation 14 Consultation stage we'll do our best to provide constructive comments to ensure your policies for the historic environment are as effective and robust as possible. We want your policies to succeed in promoting both the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment for this and future generations.

If we have concerns that a policy could have harmful effects on a heritage asset, we'll usually suggest a way of avoiding or minimising that harm within the plan to help you achieve your other objectives. How much help you might need from us normally depends on the amount of consideration that has already been given to conserving heritage assets alongside other considerations in preparing your plan.

Publication of the plan

Once the plan has reached the publication stage (also termed the Regulation 16 Consultation stage), Historic England will be consulted on it by the Local Planning Authority. We may choose to submit representations for submission to the examiner alongside the plan. This could include instances where Historic England has not been consulted but, following the publicising of the plan, become aware of policies which may harm the historic environment or which may not be in general conformity with the strategic policies within the local plan. Representations to the examiner could include, for example, suggested policy text alterations within the plan to ensure general conformity, or clarification regarding particular issues covered in the neighbourhood’s consultation statement.

If we're concerned that a policy could promote development that would result in unjustified harm to heritage assets and, therefore, does not conform to the government’s definition of sustainable development (or is not in general conformity with the NPPF), we may request the Examiner recommend removing it from the plan. It is very rare for Historic England to formally object to a plan as a whole and we will normally suggest a means of amending the plan, however, it is less easy to achieve a mutually satisfactory outcome at this stage of plan-making.

Discussing the actions needed to save historic buildings
Discussing the actions needed to save historic buildings © Historic England

Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders

We also have a statutory role linked with other neighbourhood planning tools, specifically Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders. A Neighbourhood Development Order can grant planning permission for specific types of development in a specific neighbourhood area. It can apply to a specific site, sites or wider geographic area. Neighbourhood Development Orders can be used to permit:

  • Building operations
  • Material changes of use of land and buildings, and/or
  • Engineering operations

A Community Right to Build Order is a form of Neighbourhood Development Order. It can be used to grant planning permission for small scale development for community benefit on a specific site or sites in a neighbourhood area. For example it can be used to approve the building of homes, shops, businesses, affordable housing for rent or sale, community facilities or playgrounds.

There is a requirement to consult Historic England on all Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders. On consultation we will assess the order for impacts on the historic environment and heritage assets, including the need for an archaeological statement.

Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders must satisfy a number of basic conditions. These include having special regard to the desirability of:

  • Preserving any listed building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest that it may possess
  • Preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of any conservation area

Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders go beyond the Neighbourhood Plan and grant planning permission for certain specified types of development within the neighbourhood area. Further information on Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders can be found in the Historic England Guide to Heritage Protection.

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