Local Heritage in a Rural Community
Most parishes and towns contain listed buildings, perhaps a Conservation Area, protected nationally and by local authority policies. However, there are often other locally significant buildings and features in terms of heritage and character that do not meet the criteria for national listing.
Local people can identify buildings and features that they judge to be an important part of their local heritage and identity. They can then include evidence-based policies in their Neighbourhood Plan to ensure planning decisions take such features into account as ‘Local Heritage Assets’, helping to conserve local character. Though not providing the level of protection that comes with formal listing, assets highlighted in a plan become a ‘material consideration’ that must be addressed in applications for planning permission that could affect any asset.
In Seend Parish in Wiltshire, the Steering Group identified the conservation and enhancement of local heritage as a key objective in their Neighbourhood Plan. The Place Studio team worked together with Steering Group members, using the key criteria in the guidance from Historic England, to update existing information and to collect new information to underpin a number of policies in the plan that relate to heritage and character.
Local research, guided by the Place Studio team, highlighted a number of locally important heritage features in Seend Parish, notably many associated with the historic Kennet and Avon canal - swing bridges, locks and a valued local pub for example. As well as including general policies on heritage in their plan, these Local Heritage Assets are now also specifically protected.
The Seend Parish Neighbourhood Plan successfully passed examination and referendum and was formally 'made' in May 2021.
"Place Studio gave us confidence and encouragement to complete this complex process and clarified aims and deadlines in achievable and realistic segments. They were patient and understanding in working with us as volunteers with various skills, methods of working and limited availability. They were readily contactable and responded to queries promptly. It was a pleasure to work with them."
Georgina A'Bear & Carola Thorpe, on behalf of the Seend Parish Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group