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Recent Changes to Heritage Protection

Changes in the mainstream planning system as well as in the specialised heritage protection system are regularly being considered and progressed.

Set out below are those recent changes that will affect heritage protection.

Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013

Given Royal Assent in April 2013, this deregulatory legislation (1) includes four heritage protection reforms aimed at improving efficiency without reducing protection. Some of them were promoted in the draft Heritage Protection Bill (2) of 2008 and some have arisen as a result of the Penfold Review of Non-Planning Consents (3).

The changes are:

  1. Heritage partnership agreements may be entered into between local authorities and owners setting out works for which listed building consent is granted (excluding demolition).
  2. Local or national Listed Building Consent Orders may be set up by a Local Planning Authority or the Secretary of State, respectively, under which works of the type described in the Order (excluding demolition) will not need listed building consent.
  3. A certificate of lawful proposed works is introduced (valid for 10 years) that categorically confirms that the works described in it do not affect the character of the listed building and do not therefore require consent.
  4. The extent of protection of a listed building can be better defined by excluding attached buildings and structures and those within the curtilage of the principal listed building from protection, and by stating definitively that some feature of a listed building is not of special architectural or historic interest.
  5. A certificate of immunity from listing may be applied for at any time.
  6. Conservation area consent has been replaced with planning permission.

The changes are all now in force. Further details may be viewed on our Creating an efficient system for protecting our heritage web pages.

Housing and Planning Act 2016

The Housing and Planning Act received Royal Assent on 12 May 2016.  There were various provisions – some of which are set out below – many of which are now in force although they still require secondary legislation before they can be implemented.

Neighbourhood planning - Provisions to speed up and simplify the neighbourhood planning process (designation of neighbourhood areas; timetable in relation to neighbourhood development orders and plans ; intervention powers; LPAs to notify neighbourhood forums of planning applications).

Local plans - Secretary of State provisions in respect of local plan preparation (broader powers to direct amendment of local development schemes (LDSs); powers for Secretary of State or Mayor of London to prepare a LDS, if one has not been prepared by a local planning authority; powers to direct in respect of development plan documents (LPA and examiners); powers to prepare, revise or adopt local plans (the ‘March 2017’ powers); cost recovery powers; power to invite the Mayor of London or a combined authority to prepare or revise a development plan document for a ‘failing’ local planning authority).

Permission in principle and registers of land – introduction of requirement for LPAs to prepare, maintain and publish a register of land of a (still to be) prescribed description: the ‘brownfield’ register. Regard must be had in the production of the register to the development plan, national policies and advice, and any guidance issued by the Secretary of State.

Introduction of a new, two-stage route to planning permission, now limited to ‘housing-led’ development proposals (there is also specific provision that the new consent mechanism cannot be used in respect of the winning and working of minerals: ‘permission in principle’ (PiP) + ‘technical details consent’ (TDC) = planning permission. PiP can be obtained through allocations in qualifying documents (defined as new local/neighbourhood plans, and the brownfield register), and through direct applications (where it can be granted or refused: PiP cannot be subject to conditions). TDC must be determined in accordance with the relevant permission in principle.

Further detail on the intended operation of these new tools is set out in the Technical Consultation on Implementation of Planning Changes.

Government Guidance Review

Government has consulted on a radical overhaul of guidance supporting the planning system that will see a great reduction in the volume of Government endorsed guidance documents. National Planning Practice Guidance has been published (4) to replace the previous planning practice guidance notes and statements (PPGs and PPSs).


(1)Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013

(2)Draft Heritage Protection Bill, UK Parliament, 2008

(3)Penfold Review of non-planning consents, Department for Business Innovation and Skills, 2010

(4)Planning Practice Guidance, Department for Communities and Local Government

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