Understanding Place: Historic Area Assessments

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This guidance explains how to undertake Historic Area Assessments (HAAs) in order to understand and explain the heritage interest of an area. HAAs help explain the character of a place and define its significance, providing a sound evidence base for the informed management of the historic environment. The approach is intended to assist historic environment specialists, planners, developers, local communities and others in evaluating the historic environment by understanding how the past is encapsulated in today’s landscape, explaining why it has assumed its present form and highlighting its more significant elements.

HAAs typically give insights into how and why a place has come to look the way it does. They identify the range of landscapes and building types, their dates and forms, and relate them to the wider evolution of the area. The Introduction sets out the principles and benefits of assessment and explains how it relates to other approaches to the understanding of historic areas. Sections 2–4 explain the practical issues underlying HAAs and how to carry them out at various levels of resolution.

This guidance note supersedes the English Heritage guidance published in June 2010 and a companion document, Understanding place: Historic Area Assessments in a planning and development context.


  1. Introduction
  2. Key issues
  3. Levels of assessment
  4. Fieldwork, research and analysis
  5. Bibliography
  6. Glossary
  7. Acknowledgements.

Additional Information

  • Series: Guidance
  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Pages: 40
  • Product Code: HEAG146


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