Conservationist architects have raised concerns over new planning guidance introduced this month for historic buildings
Published by the government last week, the new Planning Policy Statement 5 (PPS5) presumes in favour of protecting designated heritage assets and defines what makes buildings, monuments or landscapes ‘significant’ as well as highlighting the role the historic environment can play in regeneration.
Roger Mears of conservation specialists, Roger Mears Architects, said: ‘PPS5 is a curate’s egg; good in places and not so good in others. PPG15 [which it replaces] had clear guidelines on a building being accentuated, which everyone understood.’
Matthew Slocombe of The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings said: ‘Our concern is that the document may give stronger grounds for restoration than repair. It talks about enhancing significance through alteration. Our view is you can’t enhance through alteration to a listed building.’
He raised particular concern about the policy’s lack of a legal framework. ‘The bigger issue is this policy and guidance has come in without the Heritage Bill that was due last year,’ he said.
But the Country Land and Business Association in a statement welcomed the policy. Henry Robinson, vice president, said: ‘It acknowledges the need to keep heritage economically viable and relevant to the future. It makes it easier to argue for sympathetic change, rather than the old approach that seemed to say “you can’t touch anything - it’s all part of the history of the building.”’
English Heritage helped to prepare the Practice Guide and The Heritage Alliance contributed to the consultation.
The Heritage Alliance said the streamlined policy is ‘a significant milestone in the drive towards a heritage protection system fit for the 21st century.’
PPS5: Planning for the Historic Environment replaces PPG15: Planning and the Historic Environment and PPS16: Archaeology and Planning. It covers archaeological sites, monuments, historic buildings and landscapes. The Historic Environment Planning Practice Guide sets out how it should be implemented.