Detail of tympanum showing tree of life

Detail of tympanum showing tree of life. Church of St Mary, Lower Swell, Gloucestershire © Historic England DP167210 See the List entry
Detail of tympanum showing tree of life. Church of St Mary, Lower Swell, Gloucestershire © Historic England DP167210 See the List entry

Local Designation

Identifying and managing those parts of the historic environment valued by local communities is an important element of the heritage protection system. Local designation allows for the management of local heritage through the planning system and provides an opportunity to engage with local communities. It encompasses both individual assets identified by local listing right through to areas of local character represented by conservation areas. 

Door in Princelet Street, Spitalfields, London.
Simple elements, such as this door in Princelet Street, Spitalfields, can be important contributors to the character of conservation areas

Conservation areas

Conservation areas are a well established designation employed by local planning authorities to manage areas of special architectural or historic interest. Effective management of conservation areas relies upon the preparation of a character appraisal and accompanying management plan.

View down Steep Hill in Lincoln highlighting the character of the conservation area
This view down Steep Hill in Lincoln highlights how the character of a conservation area is dependent upon the interplay of elements such as architectural style, street pattern and surfacing

Local listing and local heritage assets

Local listing helps to raise the profile of local heritage by identifying heritage assets that are of greatest importance to local people. The National Planning Policy Framework also highlights the contribution of local listing to the development of the evidence base used to support local plan making.

Local heritage assets can range from buildings, designed landscapes, archaeology and elements of the natural environment. By involving local people in their preparation, local lists and the practices and processes that support them represent a voluntary agreement between local planning authorities and community representatives on how local heritage assets are managed.

Areas of special local character

Some local planning authorities have chosen to rely on additional forms of local designation to manage their local historic environment. These generally take the form of areas of special local character, designed to capture historically important areas that fail to meet the criteria for designating conservation areas. Although such areas of special character are generally used to identify areas based upon their architectural or townscape merits, they may also deal with other elements of the historic environment such as locally important landscapes or archaeology.

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