Enabling Development and the Conservation of Significant Places

'Enabling development' refers to development that would usually be considered harmful but is considered acceptable because the resulting benefits outweigh the harm.

This policy and guidance applies only to development contrary to established planning policy, not proposals to secure the future of significant places that are in accordance with the local development framework and national policy. The policy itself now sits within the framework provided by English Heritage’s Conservation Principles, Policies and Guidance for the Sustainable Management of the Historic Environment (2008), which promotes a values-based approach to assessing heritage significance. The detailed practical guidance provided here should be applied within the context provided by the Principles.

Despite recent changes to the Government's Planning Policies, namely, the publication of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the overriding policy approach is unlikely to change. This Guidance still stands as Historic England's position on Enabling Development. References to PPS5 Policy HE11 can now be replaced with NPPF paragraph 140.

We are in the process of revising this document to reflect changes resulting from the NPPF and other Government initiatives and to incorporate new information and advice based on recent case law and Inquiry decisions.

On 1 April 2015 the part of English Heritage represented on this website changed its name to Historic England. You may notice that some of our content still refers to English Heritage. We are in the process of rebranding, but in the meantime please be assured that all our content and guidance is still current.


  • The concept of enabling development
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • The legal basis for requiring the justification necessary to determine planning applications
  • Understanding the place and identifying options
  • Understanding the figures
  • Making the decision
  • Securing the benefits
  • Monitoring and enforcement
  • Appendices
  • References
  • Glossary
  • Index


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