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What is a non-designated heritage asset and what does this status mean for development?

Non-designated heritage assets are buildings, monuments, sites, places, areas or  landscapes identified as having a degree of significance meriting consideration in planning decisions because of their heritage interest but which do not meet the criteria for designated heritage assets (as defined in Annex 2 of the NPPF). These can include those identified by a local planning authority such as ‘local interest’ buildings.

In developing ‘Local Lists’ that identify non-designated heritage assets, local planning authorities are encouraged to follow guidance within Historic England Advice Note 7: Local Heritage Listing (Historic England, 2016). This guidance encourages public engagement and consultation on the local criteria for identification, as well as consideration of Historic England listing selection guides. Common themes include:


  • Cultural landscapes: heritage assets associated with a significant period in an area’s history;
  • Social history: assets associated with the social history of an area, including intangible aspects of heritage such as traditions and practices, or literary associations;
  • Patterns of settlement: notable examples of planned or incidental planning including: street plans; characteristic clusters of assets; interrelationship between buildings and open spaces; major infrastructure;
  • Local Figures: assets associated with individuals of local importance.


Historic England’s Conservation Principles (2008) provides further detail on assessing the significance of a heritage asset, based around an understanding of an asset’s evidential, historical, aesthetic or communal value. At its heart, local listing provides an opportunity for communities to have their views on local heritage heard. It recognises that the importance we place on the historic environment extends beyond the confines of the planning system to recognise those community-based values that contribute to our sense of place.

A substantial majority of buildings have little or no heritage significance, however, and thus do not constitute heritage assets. Only a minority have enough heritage interest for their significance to be a material consideration in the planning process (as made clear in paragraph 39 of the national Planning Practice Guidance).

Buildings, features and structures which do warrant consideration as non-designated heritage assets are a material consideration in the planning process. Paragraph 197 of the NPPF states: “The effect of an application on the significance of a non-designated heritage asset should be taken into account in determining the application. In weighing applications that directly or indirectly affect non-designated heritage assets, a balanced judgement will be required having regard to the scale of any harm or loss and the significance of the heritage asset”.

In addition, paragraph 199 of the NPPF advises that the local planning authority should require developers to record and advance understanding of the significance of any heritage assets to be lost (wholly or in part) in a manner proportionate to their importance and the impact, and to make this evidence (and any archive generated) publicly accessible. However, the ability to record evidence of the past should not be a factor in deciding whether such loss should be permitted.

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