Our Role in the Planning System

We are the government's expert advisor on England’s heritage and we have a statutory role in the planning system. Central to our role is the advice we give to local planning authorities, government departments, developers and owners on development proposals affecting the historic environment.

We also publish wide-ranging advice on the management and enhancement of the historic environment.

In most cases local planning authorities will be the first point of contact for advice on proposals for change in the historic environment. It is not necessary or appropriate for us to engage with every planning issue that involves the historic environment.

‘Constructive Conservation’ expresses the role we play in promoting a positive and collaborative approach to conservation that focuses on actively managing change. The aim is to accommodate the changes necessary to ensure the continued use and enjoyment of heritage assets while recognising and reinforcing their historic significance. Our advice seeks to minimise the loss of significance to these assets. We also look for opportunities to enhance the historic environment.

More information on heritage assets can be found in our Heritage Protection Guide on our website.

The basis of our advice

Our advice is shaped by legislation and based upon government policy and guidance. Our advice is also underpinned by our published Conservation Principles.

We expect to uphold publicly the statutory advice we provide to local planning authorities. Unless material circumstances change, we will not alter our advice. It is for the statutory decision-maker(s) to judge the balance of any competing interests.