EH encourages fresh look at historic areas

Watchdog English Heritage has published new guidance to help local authorities and planning consultants to conduct historic area assessments.

Understanding Place: Historic Area Assessment – Principles and Practice sets out in detail a systematic method of understanding, within a short space of time, the heritage interest of a fairly small area or neighbourhood. This type of assessment will identify the features that contribute to the historic character of an area, as well as issues that may threaten to change that character such as infilling of vacant sites, new developments, "garden-grabbing" in residential suburbs, or redundant and derelict buildings.

EH said Anfield and Breckfield in Liverpool benefited from having historic area assessments undertaken. Pat Aird, head of national planning advice at EH, said: "England is renowned for containing great diversity within a relatively small country. The broad contrasts between various landscapes are striking, but variety and unique character are present at more intimate local levels as well and are what make places attractive to businesses, visitors and residents. This guidance will help people understand and protect those finer grain details that make our neighbourhoods special.

"People care passionately about their local heritage. If we can provide them with the tools to understand their surroundings better, they will be able to discuss and decide on new developments from an informed position which ultimately leads to a better stewardship of the historic environment without hindering positive change."

  • The full version of Understanding Place: Historic Area Assessment – Principles and Practice, and a shorter version specifically aimed at local authorities and developers are available on

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