Launched: A World Heritage Planning Circular
To accompany this English Heritage has produced explanatory Guidance for The Protection & Management of World Heritage Sites in England.
This is yet another positive step towards reforming and streamlining England's Heritage Protection System and fulfills the commitment Government made in 2007 to clarify and strengthen protection for World Heritage Sites.
World Heritage Sites
World Heritage Sites are sites, places, monuments or buildings of "Outstanding Universal Value" to all humanity - today and in future generations. Currently the UK has 28 sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Since the UK ratified the World Heritage Convention in 1984, World Heritage Sites have been protected through the UK planning system as well as through designation of individual elements.
World Heritage Sites are a key material consideration which regional and local authorities must bear in mind when making planning decisions in or around World Heritage Sites.
What does the new Circular do?
- It consolidates earlier policy and explains that World Heritage Sites are important
- It sets out the role of regional and local authorities in ensuring the protection, promotion and enhancement of World Heritage Sites through the conservation and preservation of their "Outstanding Universal Value".
- It highlights the need to identify, protect and sustain World Heritage Sites.
It recognises the role of Steering Groups in representing World Heritage Site owners, managers and interested parties.
- It emphasizes the importance of Statements of Significance and Statements of 'Outstanding Universal Value' as effective ways to identify, protect and manage World Heritage Sites.
- It recognizes the importance of Management Plans in the effective management of World Heritage Sites.
The circular and guidance sit alongside other recent changes which increase protection for World Heritage Sites:
- World Heritage Sites have been added to Article 1(5) land (pdf download). This will help to control certain types of alterations which might cumulatively damage the "outstanding universal value" of a World Heritage Site.
- CLG has issued new 'Call In' directions for planning applications affecting World Heritage Sites where English Heritage objects but the Local Authority is minded to consent.
- CLG have combined PPGs 15 and 16 into a revised Planning Policy Statement for the Historic Environment (PPS15) which together with the accompanying Practice Guide is currently out for public consultation.