Image of map for walking tour with images and explanatory information about Gray's Inn Road

Online Tour Maps

Historic characterisation is a tool that can be used to understand areas in order to manage change in them appropriately. These online maps will guide users around three specific historic areas, illustrating how much a small amount of historical research and observation can tell us about place. They also suggest reasons why more recent development may or may not have enhanced the place’s existing character. These resources are most suitable for planning officers working in a historic environment and early career conservation officers. 

Holborn - London

This short 1 kilometre tour investigates the inherited character of an area of Holborn in London.

It highlights elements, both new and old, that help create a special sense of place. Explore the streets, buildings and spaces to understand the story of how and why the area’s character has developed the way it has. In turn, you can look to the area's future, considering how modern developments are responding to their historic surroundings. The different approaches that have been taken are useful for thinking about issues of design in context, planning and regeneration.

You can navigate the tour by following the map and the key points along it. Short descriptions with images are provided for each. Please note Gray’s Inn Court is a private space and parts have restricted opening hours.

Holbeck - Leeds

This short 1 kilomatre tour explores the inherited character of part of Holbeck, a former industrial area of Leeds undergoing heritage-led regeneration. 

A rich industrial heritage is interspersed with large gap sites, many of which have secured investment to create an urban village immediately south of the city centre. Poor quality developments in the late 20th century led to adoption of the Holbeck Urban Village Planning Framework (2006). Principles within it are guiding future development, helping to “preserve the area’s unique character, combining the architectural legacy with new high-quality and contemporary design”.

Moving around the area we’ll be exploring some techniques of characterisation, a method used to understand and describe how a place is distinctive. We’ll explore some policies in the Urban Village Planning Framework, and considering how more recent developments have contributed to the area’s character. Relevant principles within the ‘Urban Design & Public Realm’ and‘ Conservation & Listed Buildings’ chapters of the Holbeck Urban Village Planning Framework are introduced along the way, demonstrating the important roles that strategic planning and development management have in heritage-led regeneration. You can navigate the tour by following the map and the key points along it. Short descriptions with images are provided for each point. 

City Centre - Worcester

This short 1 kilometre tour follows the ancient streets of Worcester city centre, exploring the inherited character of one of England’s most strategic settlements. The city has an intriguing story to tell, one that underpins its historic significance as a market centre serving an expansive rural hinterland. Phases of development survive as expressions of the ebb and flow of the city’s economy for over half a millennia. Places and spaces have been repurposed time and again, and modern buildings now sit shoulder to shoulder with their Tudor counterparts. Adapting historic townscapes for the needs of future generations is a challenging task. The way we develop and build in the historic environment is becoming increasingly more informed and proactive, recognising the potential roles that heritage assets have to play in regeneration. Understanding the historic significance of areas, buildings, spaces and archaeology is an important first-step in the place-shaping process. This tour investigates some of the key techniques and principles for doing just that. Along the way we’ll evaluate some of the contributions that recent developments have made, and see how the heritage of the area is being celebrated and harnessed.