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Threat to the Landscape Setting of Historic Buildings

Society DOs from R to L: Brian Davies, Derek Read, Chris Baines-Holmes, Liz Thomas and Rosalyn St Pierre. Policy Officer Vic Ient is on the left.

In November last year our East Sussex district officer team visited Swanborough Manor in East Sussex. We all agreed it was very interesting to look around and inside this unique historical building which started life in the 11thC as the grange to the nearby Cluniac  (St Pancras) Priory in Lewes. But that wasn’t our main purpose. We were reviewing the threat to the landscape setting of such historic building caused by nearby developments.


The team take stock of the adjacent building works

Our Society believe the area around a listed building should be treated with special regard especially when it comes to constructing anything nearby. Anybody applying for planning permission to alter or construct a new building in the vicinity of a listed building should demonstrate how they are protecting the ‘setting’ of a listed building. This applies to Grade II listed buildings and moreover to Grade I buildings.


Please read on….

Sadly over the years planning authorities have tended to have little regard to the setting of a listed building. We have come across a number of examples of neglect to this aspect and we are taking up the case with the planning authority. We strongly support protection in relation to the planning enforcement system, planning applications and planning appeals. We have had some small success on a planning appeal regarding a building adjacent to Greatham Manor, West Sussex (grade II listed) where an appeal was dismissed for alterations which were out of keeping for the setting of the manor house. Much more challenging is the disregard for the setting of the grade I listed Swanborough Manor in East Sussex. We are hoping the local Lewes District Council will recognise the importance of such a building and take the necessary planning enforcement action. We believe planning policy is on our side in the form of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) **. Let’s see how we get on in the coming months!

**NPPF  see:

Proposals affecting heritage assets

Para 189 says:

In determining applications, local planning authorities should require an applicant to describe the significance of any heritage assets affected, including any contribution made by their setting. The level of detail should be proportionate to the assets’ importance and no more than is sufficient to understand the potential impact of the proposal on their significance. As a minimum the relevant historic environment record should have been consulted and the heritage assets assessed using appropriate expertise where necessary. Where a site on which development is proposed includes, or has the potential to include, heritage assets with archaeological interest, local planning authorities should require developers to submit an appropriate desk-based assessment and, where necessary, a field evaluation.

Other NPPF paragraphs apply:

  1. Any harm to, or loss of, the significance of a designated heritage asset (from its alteration or destruction, or from development within its setting), should require clear and convincing justification. Substantial harm to or loss of:

a) grade II listed buildings, or grade II registered parks or gardens, should be exceptional;

b) assets of the highest significance, notably scheduled monuments, protected wreck sites, registered battlefields, grade I and II* listed buildings, grade I and II* registered parks and gardens, and World Heritage Sites, should be wholly exceptional.

The NPPF defines the setting of a heritage asset as follows:  “The surroundings in which a heritage asset is experienced.Its extent is not fixed and may change as the asset and its surroundings evolve. Elements of a setting may make a positive or negative contribution to the significance of an asset, may affect the ability to appreciate that significance or may be neutral. “

Not only are local planning authorities responsible for implementing the NPPF but also should take regard of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.