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Archaeology Matters

Historic environment policy

policy framework

Protection of the historic environment is underpinned by various types of designations in the UK. Designation enables nationally significant heritage assets to be identified. This ensures they can be cared for properly in planning.

The UK system for heritage protection has two essential parts:

  • Identifying heritage through designation
  • Protecting it through the planning system

English Heritage, along with local authorities, has a statutory duty to protect the best examples of the UK's varied historic environment.

National heritage designations

English Heritage identifies heritage assets which have significance due to their historic, archaeological, architectural or artistic interest, through listing, scheduling or registration. These are identified as follows:

  • Scheduled ancient monuments
  • Listed buildings
  • Registered parks and gardens
  • Registered battlefields
  • Wrecks

Local heritage designations

Local planning authorities have the power to designate within their area and to incorporate these designations in their planning activities. The main designations are:

  • Conservation areas
  • Local lists
  • Archaeological sites

Main legislative frameworks

There are three principal legislations protecting historic environment. Any decisions relating to listed buildings and conservation areas must address the statutory considerations as well as satisfying the relevant policies within the National Planning Policy Framework and the Local Plan.

  • The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990
  • The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979
  • The Protection of Wrecks Act 1973
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