Recognise Importance of Historic Sites; WHO'S PLANNING WHAT? TIM WHEELER

Article excerpt

WORLD Heritage Sites (WHS) have outstanding universal value for humanity from the point of view of history, art or science.

The UK contains a wealth of potential sites, which in some cases are of international significance. WHS status brings enormous prestige, helps promote individual sites and attracts additional visitors to the UK from overseas.

At the present time there are 28 WHS in the UK, including two from this region: Hadrian's Wall and Durham Cathedral.

Sites range from the obvious candidates (Stonehenge) to ones which may be less familiar - for example the 200-year-old Pontcysyllte Aqueduct near Wrexham.

Sites can be monuments or groups of buildings, but also natural features that define a period in the Earth's history - for example the Devon and Dorset Coast.

Designation of a site as a WHS does not of itself bring about additional statutory protection.

However, PPS5, the new guidance on planning for the historic environment, requires planning authorities to consider the desirability of sustaining and enhancing all heritage assets as part of their planning activities.

At present, WHS are not imbedded in the UK planning legislation, something that the 2008 Heritage Protection Bill sought to rectify. …