'Design & Access’ for Designated Heritage Changes

Richard Stocking
The Department for Communities and Local Government has recently made some welcome changes to the heritage legislation, which I discuss in this article.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) have amended heritage legislation as part of wider streamlining of planning legislation that was introduced on 25th June 2013.

The frustratingly rigid, statutorily prescribed and often inappropriate content of Design and Access Statements (D&AS) which must accompany listed building applications are to be relaxed. Amendments to legislation have removed the requirement for D&AS to:

  • explain the principles and concepts that have been applied to scale, layout, appearance of the works to be carried out
  • explain how the features which ensure access to the building will be maintained

By removing the strict content requirements DCLG aim to reduce the amount of unnecessary or irrelevant information often included in D&AS.

Applicants will still be required to:

  • explain the design concepts and principles which have informed the proposed development
  • demonstrate how context has informed their scheme
  • explain the approach to access and state how any consultation on access issues has been taken into account

This more proportionate approach will allow applicants or their agents to tailor the content of their D&AS to the scale and nature of the proposed development and I’m sure will be appreciated by fellow heritage advisers and property professionals alike.

This more proportionate approach will allow applicants or their agents to tailor the content of their D&AS to the scale and nature of the proposed development...

DCLG’s aim is to focus the use of D&AS on applications where they offer greatest value. So as part of the wider streamlining of planning policy the threshold at which D&AS will be required to form part of planning applications has been raised to include major development and listed building applications only. Therefore any proposed works or development that require planning permission and is outside the above categories will no longer require a D&AS to be submitted, similar to current Householder Planning Application requirements. Applicants and their agents will importantly still need to explain and justify their development proposals with reference to the planning policy framework but in a manner proportionate to the project. Planning policy framework will be used by Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to assess the suitability of planning applications.

The requirement to submit a heritage statement as part of a listed building application has not been affected by the changes introduced on the 25th June 2013. An applicant or their appointed agent must still comply with section 128 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) by assessing and describing the significance of a heritage asset, making reference to the relevant historic environment record (HER) and using appropriate expertise where necessary.

Faithful+Gould in conjunction with Atkins Heritage can provide conservation advisers and historic building consultants to assist with your conservation planning requirements. If you need specialist advice or support on any projects that involve heritage assets or you just require general guidance on built heritage or building conservation matters please do not hesitate to contact me.

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