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Development Pressure NHPP Activity 2A1

Research undertaken as part of the National Heritage Protection Plan between 2011-2015, on understanding how development pressure trends impact on the historic environment.

Building Site, Liverpool
Building Site, Liverpool

The scope of the activity

Many of England’s historic urban and rural settlements are undergoing considerable change. We understand the need for economic growth and increased housing supply. However, the pace of urban redevelopment and the need to consider development of rural greenfield sites, together with the resulting requirements for further infrastructure will inevitably have consequences for the Nation’s heritage.

As a result, we carried out work to understand better where development impact on the historic environment is greatest - and at the same time to see if there is local capacity in these areas to address the challenges.

A review of previous approaches and techniques also helped us see if there are tools that can help those in local authority planning and environment services to ensure that development is sustainable. Sustainable development is the main tenet of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

View of historic buildings integrated into re-development
Sustainable development at Regent Quarter, Kings Cross, London. © English Heritage

Protection results

We aimed to deliver practical tools and advice that will help to identify where the most sensitive and threatened areas of heritage are, to help focus resources where the threat is greatest.

Projects in activity 2A1

Evaluation of our involvement in environmental impact assessments

This project analysed how effective we have been in the environmental assessment process. It is helping us to update our internal guidance on Environmental Impact Assessments. It also showed that Historic England needs to produce external guidance on when and how Historic England should be consulted on Environmental Impact Assessments.

Retail development and town centre management research

Much changed in the retail and development sectors since English Heritage published Retail Development in Historic Areas in 2005. This project looked at how the economic climate evolved in the intervening period. Trends such as online retailing and changing shopping habits are creating a structural shift in both in the retail sector and how town centres and high streets are used.

We reviewed how we provide advice to local planning authorities on development proposals and regeneration schemes in historic commercial cores.  To support this review we held a workshop about retail with stakeholders in March 2013.

Trial collection of evidence of development pressure

This trial project collected data from local authorities on their local plan housing allocations (or for those without a local plan, the numbers set out in the evidence base and developing plan) and compared this with the amount of designated heritage within the area. We also compared this data with the available local authority historic environment resources to attempt create a better picture of the national implications of new development. However, the results did not show ideal scope for applicability and an alternative method of collating data via GIS was suggested.

Evaluation of housing development on the historic environment

Related to the project above, this research examined recent housing development that might have been influenced by the range of existing tools designed to assess significance and help in the design of new housing development. It assessed to what extent these have influenced the final form of a range of development schemes and how they have affected the historic environment. The report shows whether the historic land form can be still “read” and the degree to which it integrates with existing local character. See the findings from the project in a digital report.

Assessing the impact of airport noise on the historic environment

Against the background of possible airport expansion schemes, this project aimed to fill a gap in the methodology of assessing the impact of aviation noise on the historic environment. It concentrated on how to measure the impact on the setting of heritage assets. Find out more from the project report prepared on English Heritage's behalf by Temple Limited in partnership with Cotswold Archaeology.

Links to other NHPP activities

The research from this Activity interfaced with a number of other NHPP Activities including:

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