Enabling Development and Heritage Assets

Historic Environment Good Practice Advice in Planning: 4

This document sets out advice on enabling development, against the background of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the related guidance given in the Planning Practice Guide (PPG).

Enabling development is development that would not be in compliance with local and/or national planning policies, and not normally be given planning permission, except for the fact that it would secure the future conservation of a heritage asset. Whilst only applicable in certain circumstances, enabling development can be a useful tool. The advice in this document is intended to help all those involved in enabling development proposals (local authorities, planning and other consultants, owners, applicants and other interested parties) to work through the possible options in relation to the asset in question, and to understand whether they are acceptable. Through analysis of the process, the likely alternatives to and the potential impacts of enabling development, it sets out a model against which to consider proposals.

It replaces Enabling Development and the Conservation of Significant Places (English Heritage, 2008).

The advice is one of four related Good Practice Advice (GPA) Notes, along with GPA1: The Historic Environment in Local Plans, GPA2: Managing Significance in Decision Taking in the Historic Environment, and GPA3: The Setting of Heritage Assets.


  • Introduction
  • Core principles
  • Assessing whether enabling development might be appropriate
  • Making the case for enabling development
  • Making the decision
  • Glossary

The advice is accompanied by a flowchart which outlines initial key questions for establishing whether Enabling Development is appropriate before taking further action.

Making the case for enabling development can involve a considerable investment as there are inevitably a number of detailed information requirements. It is good practice for the applicant to consider whether a realistic scheme might work in principle and understand what is possible, before moving on to develop the proposal in greater detail. This will help establish whether there is a reasonable chance of success that will justify commissioning further detailed advice, costings and market analysis.

A number of preliminary tasks are recommended to achieve this, before moving on to working up a detailed scheme design. Engaging the local planning authority at each stage and other consultees as appropriate, including Historic England, would be sensible even at this early stage. Pre-application discussions with the local planning authority may help reduce the chances of wasted expenditure on specialist advice.

The following flowchart illustrates one process that an applicant may wish follow in order to establish whether enabling development is appropriate in their case, although this is not the only acceptable process that could be followed to establish whether enabling development is appropriate, and the steps need not be followed in this specific order. This chart is to be used in conjunction with the detailed advice contained within GPA4.

Additional Information

  • Series: Guidance
  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Pages: 28
  • Product Code: HEAG294


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