Planning Policy Statement for the Historic Environment

PPS5 – evolution not revolution

PPS5 represents a major overhaul of the planning system for the historic environment - but the changes are evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

The fundamental principle – the importance of conserving what is a precious, fragile and finite legacy - remains at the heart of policy.

The PPS updates planning policy affecting archaeological sites, monuments, buildings and landscapes, setting out a holistic, progressive framework for their constructive conservation.

It embraces appropriate development that delivers the long term viability of heritage assets while conserving their significance for the benefit of generations to come.

View from Blackfriars Road Bridge, London

View from Blackfriars Road Bridge, London

Consistent with the approach taken to other Planning Policy Statements, PPS5 is a much more succinct and high level document than the Guidance notes it replaces.

Guidance has been separated from policy and is instead provided in the accompanying Historic Environment Planning Practice Guide which provides support and advice for the implementation and delivery of the policies set out in the PPS.

Though much briefer and less discursive than PPG15 and 16, the policies previously set out in these documents are either covered in PPS5 or presented separately in other Government policy documents.

Please note that PPS5 was consulted on under the title 'draft PPS15'.

Swiss Re Building, City of London

Swiss Re Building, City of London

What does PPS5 actually do?

It deals with all types of heritage in a single document. The PPS brings in a new, integrated approach to the historic environment and 'heritage assets', moving beyond the distinction between buildings, landscapes and archaeological remains.

It maintains the same level of protection to the historic environment as PPGs 15 and 16 but expresses the policy much more succinctly. Individual planning decisions will, of course, continue to be made on the individual merits of a scheme.

It offers a new rigour for decision-making putting greater emphasis on pre-application planning and discussion. It focuses on evaluating the significance of the heritage asset in question. The process should lead to better quality applications with fewer refusals and appeals.

It ensures there is a focus on understanding what is significant about a building, site or landscape and from that it becomes easier to determine the impact of the proposed change. It uses the 'values' approach of Conservation Principles as an underlying philosophy to inform decision-making.

It supports constructive conservation. The new PPS is in line with English Heritage's adopted Constructive Conservation approach. This encourages active understanding and use of the heritage and the instrumental values of the historic environment as assets, rather than seeing them as potential barriers to development.

It emphasises the importance of the principles of sustainable development applying to the management of change in the historic environment.

It fills in policy gaps. There are new, clearer policies on setting and design. These issues are frequently the source of the most contentious cases involving the historic environment.

It provides greater clarity on key topics such as archaeological interest, conservation areas and their preservation and enhancement, World Heritage Sites, recording and resolving conflicts with other planning priorities.

It encourages best practice within local authorities. For example, local authorities are encouraged to create or have access to publicly-accessible Historic Environment Records.

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