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16. Historic Environment

Core Strategy Strategic Objective

To protect and enhance the historic environment through controlling the location of development and ensuring high quality design

Related SCS Strategic Aim

The built and natural environment has been protected and enhanced

Why is this a strategic objective?

16.1 The historic environment is a fundamental part of our cultural heritage and contributes to our understanding of both the past and the present. It has tremendous visual appeal, provides inspiration and enjoyment and helps reinforce a sense of local identity. The historic environment is therefore of immense importance for education, culture, leisure, tourism and the wider economy.

16.2 Warwick District has a rich history which has left a legacy of fine historic buildings and places. These include historic castles of national importance at Warwick and Kenilworth (the largest ruined castle in England), alongside one of the finest examples of a regency spa town in the country, Royal Leamington Spa (containing one of the largest continuous conservation areas in the country). The District also contains a number of fine historic country houses, including Packwood House, Baddesley Clinton (both owned by the National Trust) and Stoneleigh Abbey, as well as other historic areas and parklands, ranging from formal Victorian gardens to historic Deer parks.

16.3 This legacy has been carefully protected and today Warwick District boasts 29 conservation areas which cover 3.9% of the total area, over 2,000 listed buildings, 11 nationally registered parks and gardens, 28 locally registered parks and gardens, and a large number of Scheduled Ancient Monuments and Ancient Woodlands.

Evidence:

Participation

16.4 In response to the public consultation on the "Issues Paper", over 80% of respondents felt protecting the historic environment was a high priority for the Core Strategy, with less than 5% considering it a low priority. Similarly, almost 100% of respondents felt it was important or very important to protect conservation and historic areas.

Research

16.5 The Council have the following documents and records which summarise the value and importance of some of the various components of the historic environment:

  • Urban Conservation Area Statements;
  • Rural Conservation Area Leaflets;
  • Register of Listed Buildings;
  • Register of Historic Parks and Gardens; and,
  • Register of Scheduled Monuments.

National and Regional Planning Policies

16.6 Relevant national planning policy is contained within PPG15: Planning and the Historic Environment and PPG16: Archaeology. These were published back in the early 1990's and the guidance in places is no longer relevant, e.g. they make reference to the requirement to prepare Local Plans. However, they represent the most recent national planning policy on the historic environment and they set out detailed guidance in respect of the process to be undertaken by local planning authorities when exercising its planning functions in respect of listed buildings and their setting, Conservation Areas, sites of archaeological interest and their settings, and other historic assets of acknowledged importance.

16.7 PPG15 also places a requirement on the local planning authority to set out clear policies for the preservation and enhancement of the historic environment in their area, and the factors which will be taken into account in assessing different types of planning application - for example, proposals for the change of use of particular types of historic building or for new development which would affect their setting.

16.8 Regional planning policy requires the local planning authority to protect, conserve and enhance the Region's diverse historic environment and manage change in such a way that respects local character and distinctiveness. Particular historic significance is given to:

  • Historic rural landscapes and their settlement patterns;
  • Historic urban settlements;
  • Listed buildings, scheduled and unscheduled ancient monuments, conservation areas, historic parks and gardens, all in their settings;
  • Areas of industrial heritage;
  • The historic transport network; and,
  • Strategic river corridors

16.9 They should also recognise the value of conservation led regeneration in contributing to the social, spiritual and economic vitality of communities and the positive role that buildings of historic and architectural value can play as a focus in an area's regeneration.

What are the options?

16.10 The options available to the Core Strategy are limited and closely relate to the direction any strategic policy might give to the way the Council exercises its planning powers in relation to the historic environment. One option would be for the Core Strategy to adopt a more stringent approach to protecting and enhancing the historic environment. This might involve advocating greater use of Article Four Directions in its Conservation Areas which remove property owners permitted development rights, alongside more direct use of enforcement powers in restoring or replacing elements of historic buildings, including those buildings listed as being at risk. This approach might also seek to control more elements of the historic environment with extended Conservation Areas, and greater use of locally listed buildings and gardens being designated.

16.11 Whilst this approach may be very effective in protecting the historic environment, it can be viewed as a very confrontational approach and one which does not help to enhance the historic environment through fostering good relationships between the Council and property owners. The opposite approach in terms of the Council not using its powers in relation to Article Four Directions, or enforcement matters in respect of the historic environment would clearly be less effective and would do little to encourage owners to enhance the historic environment.

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What is our Preferred Option?

16.12 The Preferred Option for the Core Strategy is to include a strategy that takes a more balanced approach than the two contrasting options above and seeks to work with property owners to encourage them to enhance the historic environment. This would refer to giving help and advice, and where possible grant aid, to property and land owners to enhance their property. However, where this approach fails, the Council would use its Article Four and more direct enforcement powers where it was considered absolutely necessary to protect important attributes of the historic environment.

16.13 This approach relies upon a shared understanding and knowledge of the extent of the historic environment and what are its important attributes. Part of the strategy must therefore be a regular review of the existing Conservation Areas, and the designation of new areas and locally listed buildings and gardens where they are of local importance and in need of protection. Such reviews and designations would be done in consultation with the public in order to bring a shared understanding of why they are being designated.

16.14 In order therefore to implement this approach and deliver the strategic objective effectively and appropriately, the Core Strategy would include a delivery strategy setting out its approach to protecting and enhancing the historic environment, as well as a suite of strategic policies to guide its decision making on proposals. These policies would in due course be supported by Supplementary Planning Documents which would provide more detail on particular aspects of the historic environment.

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