Heritage consultancy working with the Historic built environment; We advise on conservation, planning and design matters. Acquisitions, development and conversions are key to your business. We prepare heritage assessments and statements to aid with planning applications; as local authorities often raise issues over the listing or conservation area status of a building or a site.

SHC produces strategic and practical assessments to help influence planning, design and development on private and public buildings or land. Our skills in bespoke individual projects and broader master plans benefit those making commercial and investment decisions, inspiring confidence and cooperation throughout the process.

WHAT OUR CLIENTS USUALLY NEED

  • Listed building and planning application
  • Design advice and advocacy
  • Development frameworks/master plans
  • Development options
  • Expand, change, adapt property/places
  • To make an appeal
  • Assess feasibility
  • Certificate of immunity from listing

WHAT WE OFFER

Heritage statements are prepared to influence design proposals for listed buildings and Conservation Areas. As they form a necessary part of planning and listed building applications for extensions, alterations and new development. Identification of significance is key in determining the degree of impact on a heritage asset, as it allows for the future retention strategy for a building and the qualification of change to be made to a Local Authority.

Urban character studies explore the evolution of sensitive sites, often in conservation areas, city centres or in market towns where, for instance, there is pressure to expand and grow. Assessments of built and historic character, spaces and views gives rise to a visual pattern and an appreciation of context. Such an understanding helps inform new development, ensuring that proposals fit correctly within its specific location and meets local planning requirements.

The significance of views informs conservation decisions and management of change in and around historic buildings, landscapes or townscapes. The process is often used to facilitate master-planning of strategic land with heritage sensitivities. We work with architects to acknowledge the special character of an area and ensure this is embedded in new plans and designs for housing, offices and mixed use schemes.

Heritage statements are commissioned when a change affecting a listed building needs planning permission or special consent. Therefore, in an application, we provide a description of the heritage asset, followed by an assessment of its significance. Moreover we work closely with architects to describe the design concept and the impact of the proposed development on the significance.

As a result of the local planning requirements, we will have considered all the relevant issues and sought to have balanced the client’s needs against the obligation to preserve the special interest of the building. In addition, appeals which follow the refusal by a Local Authority, will usually be backed up by evidence given to the Planning Inspector in the form of written representations and/ or hearings.

Proposals to make external changes to a building requires an assessment of the buildings architectural and historic character. This is usually followed by an evaluation of the setting of a conservation area and adjacent listed buildings. The assessment measures any potential impacts on heritage assets and forms a fundamental part of the planning application. Most importantly we will demonstrate to the Local Authority that the scheme understands and responds to the prevailing sensitivities of being sited in a sensitive building and that the design has undertaken to mitigate any potential harm.

Initial scoping and early feasibility on projects is important for seeing what is possible and what the appropriate context is. Savings in time and money to the client are paramount; Firstly it is important to have an informal discussion before an application, where we can verify local requirements and offer a simple design and heritage precise. This will usually happen as part of or before a pre-application approach to the Local Authority. After that the chances for making a successful application are greatly improved.

A conservation management plan is a document which sets out the significance of a heritage asset, and how that significance will be retained in any future use, alteration or repair. The report will highlight the issues affecting the future conservation and management of a building or place, addressing them through a full set of policies. Susequently and an association with the record of the fabric, the plans are a key decision-making tool and often facilitate future funding.

In law and in policy there is a presumption in favour of saving heritage assets from harm (i.e. change that erodes the significance of an asset). Where change is deemed permissible, the evolutionary design changes themselves and/or other development impacts must often be assessed to first understand their implications. This then enables a balancing judgement to be made between harm and benefit.

We have used English Heritage’s advice guide ‘Setting of Heritage Assets’, for assessing the implications of potential change affecting the setting of listed heritage assets. This has ensured scheme designs respect their settings by following architectural principles of scale, height, massing and alignment, as well as using appropriate materials and techniques.

The appraisal defines and records the special architectural and historic interest of a Conservation Area, providing a basis for developing proposals for the preservation and enhancement at a later stage.

Permission to make changes to historic sites is often given on the condition that a photographic record is added to the local archive. The archive, known as The Historic Environment Record, is an important public resource and we undertake documentary research and photographic recording to meet the statutory requirement.

A survey of work is carried out to assess the condition of certain elements of a building that have become weakened through age or decline or simple lack of maintenance. Repairs concern the work necessary to put right defects, significant decay or damage, and work to return a building to a good condition on a long-term basis. The record is an inventory and a general schedule for completion of the necessary work. It involves the identification of the condition and vulnerability of different elements of the building and will often include a mix of removal, replacement, restoration and reinstatement.

We have made the case for and against the heritage status of an asset, as seen for instance in the addition (or withdrawal) of a building to the Statutory List. We have assessed buildings under threat of being listed using the nationally recognised criteria (DCMS Principles of Selection, 2010), to assess the chances of the Certificate of Immunity from listing being renewed. The case is made to Historic England prior to an Inspection being made, and successful reports have allowed the client to be able to plan their development ambitions with greater clarity.

DBA’s are required to provide a detailed appraisal of available information about a site with potential archaeological interest. Planning permission will only be granted when it is shown that development would not adversely affect scheduled ancient monuments or other nationally important archaeological sites. When development involves excavation or other ground works Councils require a written statement in the form of a desk based archaeological assessment. Search in a museum or the local sites and monuments record will reveal if there are any archaeological remains in the area.

A rebuttal is required when an application had been refused for reasons concerning impact on the architectural and historic environment. The report will come to terms with the Councils point of view and influence the Planning Inspector that the scheme warrants favourable review. We have provided evidence at cross examination at hearings as well as written evidence required for a Statement of case.