Identifying and managing those parts of the historic environment valued by local communities is an important element of the heritage protection system. Local designation allows for the management of local heritage through the planning system and provides an opportunity to engage with local communities. It encompasses both individual assets identified by local listing right through to areas of local character represented by conservation areas.
Conservation areas are a well established designation employed by local planning authorities to manage areas of special architectural or historic interest. Effective management of conservation areas relies upon the preparation of a character appraisal and accompanying management plan.
Local listing and local heritage assets
Local listing helps to raise the profile of local heritage by identifying heritage assets that are of greatest importance to local people. The National Planning Policy Framework also highlights the contribution of local listing to the development of the evidence base used to support local plan making.
Local heritage assets can range from buildings, designed landscapes, archaeology and elements of the natural environment. By involving local people in their preparation, local lists and the practices and processes that support them represent a voluntary agreement between local planning authorities and community representatives on how local heritage assets are managed.
Areas of special local character
Some local planning authorities have chosen to rely on additional forms of local designation to manage their local historic environment. These generally take the form of areas of special local character, designed to capture historically important areas that fail to meet the criteria for designating conservation areas. Although such areas of special character are generally used to identify areas based upon their architectural or townscape merits, they may also deal with other elements of the historic environment such as locally important landscapes or archaeology.