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Heritage and neighbourhood plans

We have prepared this guidance note to help neighbourhood plan groups understand the different types of heritage assets and how to identify assets that are locally important.

In line with the National Planning Policy Framework (2021), local planning authorities and plans should set out a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment. Identifying and understanding heritage assets as part of neighbourhood development plans (NDPs) can contribute to this and achieve a range of economic, social, and environmental goals as well as delivering sustainable and inclusive development.

Heritage assets are both designated and non-designated. Designated assets are protected by law and include listed buildings, conservation areas, scheduled monuments and registered battlefields. Non-designated heritage assets (NDHAs) are protected under national and local policy in local plans and NDPs. Planning positively for the historic environment at the local level, local and neighbourhood plans can identify assets and include policies to ensure their appropriate conservation.

Non-designated heritage assets and neighbourhood planning

NDHAs are defined as:

“buildings, monuments, sites, places, areas or landscapes identified by plan-making bodies as having a degree of heritage significance meriting consideration in planning decisions, but which do not meet the criteria for designated heritage assets”

Identifying NDHAs as part of the neighbourhood planning process gives local communities the opportunity to identify assets that are important to them. Buildings such as houses, schools and places of worship are often what communities consider NDHAs. However, groups should also consider the contribution of areas of archaeological potential, street furniture, parks and gardens, landscapes and other types of assets.

We have identified a number of NDHAs to date and will add them to the Local Heritage List (the Local List) for the area. Examples include old school houses, cob walls, earthworks and ridge and furrow landscapes. Recording assets on the Local List recognises them as an irreplaceable resource and allows their heritage significance to be taken in account in a manner appropriate to their significance. National guidance is clear that however they are identified, the decision to identify them as a NHDA should be based on sound evidence.

Guidance for identifying non-designated heritage assets

We currently have three sets of criteria for identifying and assessing NDHAs, formulated by the former local authorities covering the Daventry, South Northamptonshire and Northampton Areas. Groups should use the appropriate area criteria to identify NDHAs for NDPs to ensure a consistent and accountable assessment process, and to ensure they meet the required standard.

Each set of criteria has been formulated using current best practice guidance from Historic England and has been endorsed by Members. Historic England has also produced an advice note for neighbourhood planning groups on the historic environment.

Local heritage list

We are currently undertaking a project to produce a local heritage list for West Northamptonshire, which will ensure a consistent approach to the identification of NDHAs across the area. Guidance will be made available to neighbourhood planning groups when it has been produced. However, in the meantime, groups wanting to identify NDHAs should use the criteria set appropriate to their area.

Groups should contact the Planning Policy Team to request the criteria for their Area by email to [email protected] or call 0300 126 7000.

Last updated 13 April 2023