Historic Environment Records and Heritage Protection Reform

Historic Environment Records or HERs provide comprehensive information and evidence about the historic environment in a particular area. 

They are an essential source of information for managing, caring for and understanding the historic environment. 

Maintained by local planning authorities, they are used for planning and development control as well as for public benefit and educational use.

Woman reading city interpretation panel about Queen's Square, Bristol.  View of Queen's Square behind.

The Bristol City Council HER has contributed to several Legible City interpretation panels throughout Bristol. This image is taken from the Local Authority SMR-HER Development Case Studies publication 2010.

HERs and the HPR Programme

Access to consistent, up-to-date and high quality information abour the historic environment through HERs is an important requirement for the delivery of Heritage Protection Reform (HPR) and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).  A statutory duty for local authorities to maintain or have access to HERs was one of the key elements of the 2008 Heritage Protection Bill. 

Although the Heritage Protection Bill did not make it into the Government's legislative programme for 2009, English Heritage is working to support the position of HERs within local authorities. 

The NPPF sets out the requirement for local planning authorities to maintain or have access to a HER and to ensure HERs are used as a matter of course in planning and development matters.

HER case studies

The publication, Sites and Monuments Records  to Historic Environment Records: Local Authority case studies, (which you can download from the right hand side of this page) gives practical examples of the projects undertaken by local authorities to improve HER data and broaden the range of HERs' users. 

The publication shows some of the benefits and many uses of HERs. 

The collection of 19 case studies includes examples of::

  • Innovative projects which have increased the quality and coverage of information in HERs
  • Partnership working
  • HERs as a tool for giving communities a better understanding of their local area
  • Technical innovation and improved management of HER information
  • The benefits of integrating HER information with other local authority information systems

HPR Compliant funding of HERS

In April 2010 English Heritage launched the HER21 scheme to assist in the development of HPR compliant Historic Environment Records (HERs). We received a very positive response to both strands of the scheme (we have tendered for some projects, with the majority of funding being available as grants via applications to the
National Heritage Protection Commissions Programme).

The projects being taken forward cover a number of issues facing HERs including:

  • Technical issues of access
  • Identification of sources for (and development of) protocols for inclusion of new types of data
  • The development of true local government partnerships
  • Practical engagement of local communities
  • Testing the enhancement of HER capabilities in terms of impact assessments of planning schemes.

The HER21 scheme was incredibly sucessful and the full project reports and further information can be found on the Historic Environment Local Management (HELM)website.

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