2009 Yearbook

r e v i e w 21 Historic Environment Policy Project Terry Levinthal outlines recent analysis of development plan policies in Scotland and their conformance with the heritage statutes and model policies contained in Scottish Planning Policy 23: Planning and the Historic Environment. Effective heritage management through the planning system requires effective policies. The Scottish Civic Trust became aware that many local planning authorities (LPAs) had varying policies affecting listed buildings, conservation areas, archaeology, and other historic environment assets and designations. Many aspects of the designated heritage resource have their foundations in primary statute. For example, conservation areas originate with the Civic Amenity Act of 1967, and their legal presence today comes from the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 (in the Scottish context). The same applies to listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments (SAMs). These statutes lay down the regulatory environment in which heritage resources are managed. The recently revised Scottish Planning Policy 23: Planning and the Historic Environment (an amalgam of the similarly titled National Planning Policy Guideline 19 and NPPG 5: Archaeology and Planning ) articulated government policy. SPP23 proposed the implementation of model policies for the historic environment, acknowledging the national basis for these assets. The Scottish Civic Trust fully endorsed this development as it presented a positive means for ensuring that the planning system delivers consistent and coherent management of the historic environment, in accordance with statutory and national policy obligations. With the aid of Julia Lawrie from the University of Dundee’s postgraduate course on European Urban Conservation, the project set out to catalogue all the heritage policies found in every local plan in Scotland. It then assessed each against the duties imposed by statute (such as section 59 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 ) and against the wording of the proposed model policies as found in SPP23. Each policy was graded according to the level of its conformance with the statutory requirements and the draft model policies. Process and methodology For the purposes of the study, only local plans were assessed. Under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 and the new Planning Etc (Scotland) Act 2007 , the development plan is the primary policy tool for the purposes of land-use planning in Scotland. It is also the pre- eminent policy tool to be used by local planning authorities in their development control and management functions. As such, effective decisions require effective policies in effective development plans. Four main designations were assessed, each of which has a statutory or national policy position stipulating some form of planning management. These are: archaeology, conservation areas, listed buildings, and gardens and designed landscapes. In addition, there are other historic environment designations which, whilst not necessarily having a statutory presence, are nevertheless important. World Heritage Sites and battlefields, for example, all fall into this category. Where these were present, the trust simply recorded them. Other policies affecting the historic environment were also recorded where possible. Conformity was assessed on a scale of one to five, with one being very poor and five being very good. A score of zero was recorded if there was no discernible policy in the local plan. In cases where a local planning authority had a number of local plans, the assessment was made against all the plans of the LPA rather than individually. The historic environment includes landscapes and townscapes, monuments and buildings. Here historic walls define the landscape in upper Peeblesshire, with an ancient sheep stell in the foreground. (Photo: Charles Strang)