Central Bedfordshire Draft Local Plan (July 2017)
19.1.1 The historic environment forms the basis of local character, plays an important role in the shaping of places and can help to create a sense of social, physical and mental wellbeing. Heritage assets and their settings are a non-renewable resource and the Council is committed to their protection, enhancement and conservation so that they can be enjoyed by the whole community now and in the future. Heritage Assets include: Listed Buildings, Scheduled Monuments, Conservation Areas, Registered Parks and Gardens, Historic Landscapes, Archaeological Sites and Monuments, and other non-designated assets. It is an objective of Government policy to conserve and enhance all aspects of the historic environment. National advice on the identification and conservation of the historic environment, as well as development management decisions are set out in the NPPF and the Council will take full account of those requirements in the consideration of planning applications and allocations for development.
19.1.2 The Council is required to maintain or have access to a Historic Environment Record which contains details of all known heritage assets within the area. In Central Bedfordshire, the Historic Environment Record (HER) comprises nearly 11,000 records relating to buildings, landscapes and archaeological sites and monuments and includes designated and non-designated heritage assets. The Council will ensure that information gathered through plan making or development is made publicly accessible via the Historic Environment Record. In addition the Council may require developers to make a record of any works to a heritage asset or an asset that will be lost, wholly or in part, as a result of any permitted development, and to make that information publicly accessible, through the Historic Environment Record. The Council also supports the distribution of information about the historic environment to the community through a variety of media; including public open days, displays, the internet and leaflets.
19.1.3 Understanding the value and significance of a place is essential to inform decisions about its future. The degree of significance will determine what, if any, protection, including statutory and local designation, is appropriate for heritage sites.
19.2.1 The Historic Environment Record (HER) contains information on around 5,000 archaeological sites and monuments. Prospective developers should contact the Council's Archaeology Team in order to establish whether there is potential archaeological interest at a proposed development site and to determine if there is a need for a field evaluation of this resource prior to the submission of a planning application.
19.2.2 Where it is deemed that there is archaeological potential developers will be required to submit an archaeological desk-based survey for the site. Appropriate expertise may be necessary to ensure that the work is carried out to the correct standard and all the relevant issues are appreciated and understood. In some cases, developers will be required to commission an archaeological field evaluation to define the character, extent and condition of any remains.
19.2.3 Central Bedfordshire also has 83 Scheduled Monuments, protected under the terms of the 1979 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act. The Council will maintain a presumption against development that will result in harm to or loss of any Scheduled Monument or its setting. Any development that has the potential to impact upon a Scheduled Monument or its setting will have to demonstrate that the harm or loss is necessary to achieve public benefits which outweigh the harm or loss and will have to comply with paragraphs 132 to 134 of the NPPF.
19.2.4 Non-designated archaeological assets that are demonstrably of equivalent significance to Scheduled Monuments will be subject to the policy requirements applied to designated heritage assets.
Development proposals that affect known archaeological heritage assets or areas which have the potential for archaeological heritage assets must be accompanied by an Archaeological Heritage Statement.
Archaeological Heritage Statements must:
- Describe the significance of the archaeological heritage assets that will be affected by the development; and
- Assess the level of impact that the development proposals will have on those assets including where necessary an assessment of the impact of the development proposals on their setting.
Exceptions will be made where pre-application or Archaeological Officer advice indicates that an Archaeological Heritage Statement is not necessary.
Where development proposals will impact upon archaeological heritage assets, where possible, the Council will seek the preservation of those remains in situ.
Where preservation in situ cannot be achieved, a scheme of archaeological investigation, recording, analysis and publication (i.e preservation by record) will be required prior to the completion of the development. This scheme will be approved in writing by the Council in advance of development and include provision for the long term curation of any resulting archive and appropriate publication. This is required in order to record and advance understanding of the significance of any archaeological heritage assets to be lost (wholly or in part) as a consequence of the development.
The Council will support proposals that include provision for the enhancement, conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment by the creation of appropriate management and interpretation schemes.
Development proposals that cause substantial harm to the significance of archaeological heritage assets or their settings, whether designated or non-designated, or which will not undergo investigation will be refused unless the application demonstrates that the public benefits which the development will bring substantially outweigh the loss of significance.
19.3.1 A particular feature of Central Bedfordshire is the presence of a high number of historic parks and gardens. The 13 registered parks and gardens within the area include those of exceptional interest and international importance; namely Woburn Abbey, Wrest Park, Silsoe, Old Warden Park (including Swiss Garden), Luton Hoo Park and Southill Park. There are also a number of undesignated historic parks and gardens across Central Bedfordshire. All of the parkland makes an important contribution to local distinctiveness both in the wider landscape and historic significance. Historic parks and gardens often contain other heritage assets such as Listed Buildings or Scheduled Monuments. Therefore, any development proposal that affects a park and garden will need to take a holistic approach to the impact on the landscape and collective of heritage assets as a whole.
19.3.2 Historic landscapes similarly add interest and variety to the generally farmed countryside. Over 168 historic landscapes and features are protected by other policies or legislation, for instance if they are a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). However, the complexity of the historic landscape means that there are many sites, features and areas which do not have such a designation but nevertheless should be retained because of their contribution to the wider landscape and our ability to read our heritage.
Development proposals that affect Registered Parks and Gardens or their settings must be accompanied by a Historic Parks and Gardens Heritage Statement. The Historic Parks and Garden Heritage Statement must:
- Describe the significance of the designed landscape that will be affected by the development; and
- Assess the impact that the development proposals will have, including the loss or harm to of any historic features.
Exceptions will be made where pre-application advice from the Council indicates a Historic Parks and Gardens Heritage Statement is not necessary.
The Council will support development proposals that encourage the conservation, enhancement and restoration of the Historic Parks and Gardens (both designated and non-designated) identified as important in this plan [and on the proposals map].
Development proposals that would degrade the character, appearance and setting resulting in the loss of significance of Registered Parks and Gardens will be refused unless it can be demonstrated that the public benefits which development will bring substantially outweighs the loss to the historic environment.
19.4.1 Central Bedfordshire has 61 Conservation Areas, 1,938 Listed Buildings, 290 historic rural settlements and 9 historic towns. These are a key indicator of local distinctiveness. The Council recognises the need to conserve and enhance all of these important features, which make up an essential component of the character of the area.
19.5.1 When considering applications for Listed Buildings (including for change of use), the repair, renovation, alteration and extension of should not be at the expense of its intrinsic special interest and significance. It is important to guard against unnecessary change or over-restoration. In any change, materials should be sympathetic and appropriate to those used in the original building. In particular the Council will resist applications that result in the loss of traditional local features such as long straw thatched roofs, locally manufactured clay tiles and bricks and local stone.
19.5.2 In cases where Listed Buildings may become vacant and derelict, there is a presumption in favour of their retention so consent to demolish will be wholly exceptional and only allowed if all other options to retain the building are demonstrated to have been thoroughly explored. In exceptional cases where there is no alternative to demolition, the Council will require an appropriate record to be made and the appropriate salvage of materials.
19.6.1 Conservation Areas are designated not on the basis of individual buildings but because of the overall quality of the area, its mix of uses, historic layout, characteristic materials, scale and detailing of buildings and open spaces.
19.6.2 Designation also takes into account the need to protect trees, hedges, walls, railings and other characteristic features. Once designated, special attention must be paid in all planning decisions to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of the Conservation Area. The boundaries are identified on the Policies Map.
19.6.3 The Council will require new development to provide a level of visual interest that is equivalent to the existing buildings in the Conservation Area. Choice of materials and detailed design are vital elements in achieving new buildings worthy of the local character and interest which typifies Central Bedfordshire's Conservation Areas.
19.6.4 Further detailed guidance on conservation and heritage issues are contained in the Central Bedfordshire Design Guide.
Development proposals that could affect Listed Buildings, Conservation Areas and non-designated heritage assets of local importance and their setting will be granted provided they:
- Uphold the key criteria of the NPPF (including having regard to "substantial harm" and "less than substantial harm", para 132 – 136) and accord with the relevant sections of the Design Guide for Central Bedfordshire; and
- Preserve, sustain and enhance the special character, significance, appearance and locally distinctive features of the asset/s in terms of scale, form, proportion, design, materials and the retention of features; and
- Make a positive contribution to the setting of the asset/s and it's historic significance, and include hard and soft landscape proposals, where appropriate, that respect it's character and appearance of the heritage asset;
- Contribute to the viability of an asset consistent with it's conservation; and
Are accompanied by a Built Heritage Statement informed by appropriate expertise and describing all the heritage assets (designated and undesignated) that will be affected by the development and include an assessment of the level of impact that the development proposal will have on the asset/s, having regard to the relevant Conservation Area appraisal. Where development proposals have the potential to impact on the setting or significance of these assets then a consideration of the affect of the development on that setting must be included in the Built Heritage Statement.