You are currently browsing the daily archive for 13/12/2011.

You can’t get a much harder task than to be asked to assess the impact of a new development upon a view yet it’s something that those involved in Planning decisions have to do all the time. Now, in the document Seeing History in the View  English Heritage has tackled the subject head on and provided detailed step-by-step guidance for “initial baseline analysis of the heritage significance in any selected view, followed by assessment of the impact on that significance of particular development proposals”.

It is designed to be used in a variety of contexts and in conjunction with other assessment tools and techniques – and of course they note in particular it can be applied as part of assessments of the setting of heritage assets (on which they have recently issued separate guidance )

The assessment exercise they lay out is very comprehensive as a brief look at the document will confirm  for if you are going to reduce something as hard to pin down as the significance of a historical view to usable elements it has to be a complex exercise. One small portion, a summary table towards the end of the document, gives a flavour –

TABLE 4
THE MAGNITUDE OF THE CUMULATIVE IMPACT OF PROPOSALS ON HERITAGE

MAGNITUDE OF CUMULATIVE IMPACT DEFINITION
High beneficial The development, in conjunction with other changes, considerably enhances the heritage values of the heritage assets in the view, or the ability to appreciate those values or the view as a whole.
Medium beneficial The development, in conjunction with other changes, enhances to a clearly discernable extent the heritage values of the heritage assets in the view, or the view as a whole, or the ability to appreciate those values.
Low beneficial The development, in conjunction with other changes, enhances to a minor extent the heritage values of the heritage assets in the view, or the view as a whole, or the ability to appreciate those values.
Imperceptible/None The development, in conjunction with other changes, does not change the heritage values of the heritage assets in the view, or the ability to appreciate those values or the view as a whole.
Low adverse The development, in conjunction with other changes, erodes to a minor extent the heritage values of the heritage assets in the view, or the ability to appreciate those values or the view as a whole.
Medium adverse The development, in conjunction with other changes, erodes to a clearly discernable extent the heritage values of the heritage assets in the view, or the ability to appreciate those values or the view as a whole.
High adverse The development, in conjunction with other changes, substantially affects the heritage values of the heritage assets in the view, or the ability to appreciate those values or the view as a whole.

It’s probably no exaggeration to say this Guidance will have a permanent and beneficial impact (and would our country look quite different if it had been issued many years ago?) One thing EH say about it though is questionable: “It aims to reduce the scope for disputes about the nature and scale of those impacts”. It’s doubtful anyone will feel their scope for arguing has been reduced and on the contrary, it may enable the arguments to be far more lengthy and detailed and allow large numbers of precedents to be cited far more usefully. Now is probably a good time to embark on a career as a Planning lawyer or specialist. Not that all that is a bad thing for one result that is sure to come out of it is that decisions will become far more consistent, something that everyone would welcome.

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