Draft Gloucester City Plan 2016 - 2031

Draft Gloucester City Plan

E: Historic Environment

E: Historic Environment

Policies in this section:

  • Policy E1: Historic environment development management
  • Policy E2: Recording and advancing understanding of heritage assets
  • Policy E3: Buildings of local importance
  • Policy E4: Shopfronts, shutters and signs

Key issues:

Whilst Gloucester does have a rich and unique heritage, it also has a number of local challenges that need addressing through the City Plan:

  • There is a current perception by applicants and developers that only the area marked on the current local plan map (2001) as ‘Principal Archaeological Area’ is of archaeological significance, when in fact there is potential for significant archaeology across the whole city. The City Plan will need to see a move away from the ‘Principal Archaeological Area’, in favour of a more generic overarching policy across the city as significant archaeology could be present on any development within the City given its rich historical context.
  • Findings from previous City Plan consultations indicate that residents think that the council should do more to make the most of the city’s heritage assets. Depending upon ownership and resources it is not always possible or even appropriate to preserve every heritage asset as a tourist attraction or museum piece. However there are practical things that can be done to engage local community groups and make more of the city’s heritage assets:
  • Seek opportunities for more community based archaeology and built heritage survey work to be undertaken.
  • Use development opportunities to bring into use, maintain, enhance and secure the future of heritage assets. – all assets including non listed and also public realm and streetscape.- Maintain interpretation boards, continue to update plaques and provide information available to residents and visitors.
  • Ensure that where development involves the recording of heritage assets that these recordings are publicly displayed and exhibited.
  • The Conservation Area management policies that form part of the Conservation Area Appraisals are not fully utilised in the development management process and opportunities to improve the Conservation Areas are often missed. This is mainly due to the fact that the Conservation Area Appraisal and Management documents were produced after the Gloucester City Council Second Stage Deposit 2002 Local Plan and there are limited policies which can be used as they are only supplementary planning guidance. Specific policy inclusion in the City Plan heritage policy will be necessary.
  • Gloucester has a number of Buildings at Risk and Vulnerable Buildings. There have been a number of prominent heritage assets that have been left vacant and abandoned for many years. The NPPF paragraph 130 clearly states that where there is evidence of deliberate neglect of or damage to a heritage asset the deteriorated state of the heritage asset should not be taken into account in any decision. Due to the issue of Buildings at Risk it is felt appropriate that although this point is iterated in the NPPF, it is also included in any local policy as part of the City Plan.
  • Ensuring that development is locally distinctive and builds positively upon Gloucester’s unique character and heritage.
  • As part of the regeneration process it is important that improvement of the public realm and historic streetscapes are included, this is often missed due to the lack of a policy for this in the 2002 Plan, although it is identified in the conservation area appraisals

A background topic paper on the Historic Environment can be found on the council’s website by visiting www.gloucester.gov.uk/cityplan

Key evidence:

  • Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990
  • Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979
  • European Landscape Convention adopted at Florence on 20/10/2000 (European Treaty Series No. 176)
  • Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe adopted at Granada on 3/10/1985 (European Treaty Series No. 121)
  • European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage, revised (The Valletta Treaty) 1992 (European Treaty Series No. 143)

Other relevant strategies:

Historic England Advice:

  • GPA1 – Local Plan Making
  • GPA2 – Managing Significance in Decision-Taking in the Historic Environment
  • GPA3 – Setting and Views
  • Advice Note 1 – Conservation Areas
  • Advice Note 2 – Making Changes to Heritage Assets
  • Advice Note 3 – The Historic Environment and Site Allocations in Local Plans

Relevant National Planning Policy Framework paragraphs:

  • 126-141 and 169

Relevant policies from the JCS:

  • SD9 – Historic Environment

JCS strategic objectives met:

  • Strategic Objective 4 – Conserving and enhancing the environment.
  • Strategic Objective 5 – Delivering excellent design in new developments
Key City Plan principles met

1, 8, 9, 12 and 13
Historic environment policies


Gloucester has a unique and rich heritage formed by historic buildings, street patterns, archaeological remains, landscape and other physical remnants of its past. A city of intense urban activity for nearly two thousand years, it has a special legacy of nationally significant heritage from all historic periods.  The heritage of the city is a central component in its identity. It defines much of what is locally distinctive and that impacts on how the city’s residents and visitors feel, use and perceive the city. This has wide reaching implications on the image of the city, the economy, tourism, legibility and the health and wellbeing of residents.

This policy should be read in conjunction with the latest version of Policy SD9 Historic Environment of the Joint Core Strategy.

Conserving and enhancing the historic environment

The historic environment, consisting of archaeological remains, historic buildings, townscapes and landscapes, including locally significant assets and their settings in addition to designated and statutorily protected features, will be valued, protected, preserved, enhanced and managed for its contribution to character, local distinctiveness and sustainability. New development should seek to safeguard, and where possible enhance, heritage assets and their settings. Development will be required to respect and respond positively to designated heritage assets and their settings, avoiding loss or harm to their significance. Proposals that involve securing a viable future use or improvement to an asset on the Heritage at Risk register will be supported.

Positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment

To ensure the conservation and enjoyment of the City’s Historic Environment the Council will:

Continue to contribute to the maintenance and enhancement of the Gloucestershire Historic Environment Record;

Review and regularly update:

    • Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs)
    • Conservation Area Appraisals and Management Plans:
    • Article 4 directions; and
    • The Local List.
Produce and maintain a heritage at risk register, and proactively seek to reduce the number of heritage assets on the register by:
    • Exploring opportunities to bring assets into viable use; and
    • Appropriate enforcement.
Produce and regularly review condition assessments for all heritage assets directly owned or managed by the City Council.

Seek opportunities for community engagement, education and outreach activities as part of the planning process.

Describing the significance of heritage assets

Where planning applications are submitted for sites with archaeological interest:

Applicants should seek early discussion with the City Archaeologist prior to the submission of an application in order to establish the likely level and scope of supporting information required.

In the first instance applications on sites of archaeological interest will be required to provide an archaeological desk-based assessment. This assessment should:

    • Be informed by a search of the Gloucestershire Historic Environment Record;
    • Be produced in accordance with a brief from the City Archaeologist; and
    • (Where possible) assess the impact of the proposed development on archaeological remains.

Following receipt of the desk-based assessment the City Archaeologist may judge that archaeological evaluation is required in order to understand the potential impact of the development proposals on the significance of any archaeological remains. Any evaluation will:

    • Be outlined in a brief produced by the City Archaeologist;
    • Be undertaken in accordance with a Written Scheme of Investigation (approved by the City Archaeologist); and
    • The results will be outlined in a report to be submitted in support of the planning application.

Where applications are likely to affect a built heritage asset, or its setting:

Applications should be supported by a description of the asset’s historic, architectural and archaeological significance with an appropriate level of detail relating to the likely impact of the proposal on that interest. A site analysis identifying the qualities which contribute to local character, including development patterns, history, its landscape and views, and how these can contribute to the quality and sustainability of the proposed development should also be provided. This may include:

    • A built heritage assessment;
    • An assessment of significance;
    • A setting assessment; and
    • An impact assessment.

Applicants should seek early discussions with a Conservation Officer prior to the submission of an application in order to establish the scope and nature of the supporting information required.

Policy E1: Historic environment development management

The City Council will support development that conserves the significance of designated and non-designated heritage assets including archaeological remains and locally listed buildings.  

Great weight will be given to the conservation of the City’s heritage assets. New development affecting a designated or non-designated heritage asset or its setting, including alterations and additions, will be expected to make a positive contribution to its character, appearance and significance.

Proposals affecting designated and undesignated heritage assets and their settings should demonstrate that they meet the following guidance:

  1. The use of traditional, local materials and adherence to local building techniques and details, where appropriate;
  2. The conservation of features and elements that contribute to the special interest of a heritage asset, including structures forming part of the curtilage, in particular the structural integrity and historic plan-form of listed buildings and historic building groups;
  3. Appropriate use of the heritage asset that is compatible with the conservation of its significance;
  4. The location, form, scale, massing, density, height, layout, roofscape, landscaping, use and external appearance of developments within conservation areas should conserve and enhance the special historic and architectural interest of the conservation area;
  5. Development involving substantial harm to or loss of designated heritage assets will only be granted in exceptional circumstances (wholly exceptional circumstances for designated assets of the highest significance);
  6. Proposals affecting a non-designated heritage asset (including where identified through the planning process) should not harm its special interest and development involving substantial harm will be resisted unless significant public benefit has been clearly and convincingly demonstrated in accordance with the requirements of the NPPF;
  7. When determining applications, nationally important archaeological remains  which are currently non-designated will be considered subject to polices applying to Scheduled Monuments;
  8. The condition of an historic building resulting from deliberate damage and neglect will not be taken into account in any decision.

    The City Council will support applications that make provision for the preservation in situ of archaeological remains.

Gloucester has a unique and nationally important heritage. The city contains a large number of heritage assets which should be protected or enhanced for the benefit of the city, its residents and visitors, now and into the future.

The historic environment is not just important for its own sake; it adds value to regeneration, improves quality of life, attracts economic investment and contributes greatly to tourism. It is also a source of significant local pride, contributing to local identity and acting as a valuable cultural and educational resource.

In addition to this the historic environment is a finite and non-renewable resource and its protection is therefore an essential element in ensuring a sustainable future. The reuse of historic buildings can contribute to sustainability through retaining rather than wasting embodied energy and avoiding use of energy and materials for new build. Further guidance can be found in Energy Conservation in Traditional Buildings, English Heritage, 2008 http://www.climatechangeandyourhome.org.uk/live/

Policy E2: Recording and advancing understanding of heritage assets

Where development will result in the loss (wholly or in part) of a heritage asset, the City Council will require developers to record and advance understanding of the significance of that asset prior to or during development. The appropriate form of mitigation employed will be dependent on the nature of the impact but may include:

  • Historic building recording;
  • Archaeological watching brief;
  • Archaeological evaluation;
  • Archaeological excavation; and
  • Preservation in situ by design.

Mitigation will be undertake in accordance with a Written Scheme of Investigation approved by the City Council.All new information gathered from investigation and mitigation will be appropriately disseminated and any archive material deposited with the Gloucester City Museum and Art Gallery. Opportunities will be sought for community engagement, education and outreach activities to be integrated into any mitigation works.

The heritage of the city belongs to everyone who lives, works or visits Gloucester. As custodians of this heritage it is important to ensure that an accurate record of Gloucester’s Heritage is documented and maintained, and that this information can be freely used by the City Council and its residents.

Policy E3: Buildings of local importance

Where planning permission, Conservation Area Consent or any other form of relevant permission is required, it will not be granted if it would involve the demolition of, or substantial alteration to the external appearance of, any building designated as of local importance on the Local List unless:

  1. All reasonable steps have been taken to retain the building, including examination of alternative uses compatible with its local importance; and
  2. Retention of the building, even with alterations, would be demonstrably impracticable; and
  3. The benefits of the redevelopment scheme outweigh the retention of the building.

Policy E4: Shopfronts, Shutters and Signs

There will be a presumption in favour of retaining good quality traditional shopfronts where they make a positive contribution to the character of the area and are capable of repair.

Proposals to alter or create a new shopfront, shutter or signs should take account of the guidance provided in the Shopfronts SPD and any subsequent amendments.

To ensure that shopfronts, shutters and signs are of a high standard of design and appearance and do not detract from the overall quality of the urban environment.