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Valuing the Historic Environment

Coastal imageNational Planning Framework 3 recognises the contribution made by our cultural heritage to our economy, cultural identity and quality of life.  Planning has an important role to play in maintaining and enhancing the distinctive and high-quality, irreplaceable historic places which enrich our lives, contribute to our sense of identity and are an important resource for our tourism and leisure industry.

The planning system should:

  • Promote the care and protection of the designated and non-designated historic environment (including individual assets, related settings and the wider cultural landscape) and its contribution to sense of place, cultural identity, social well-being, economic growth, civic participation and lifelong learning; and
  • enable positive change in the historic environment which is informed by a clear understanding of the importance of the heritage assets affected and ensure their future use.  Change should be sensitively managed to avoid or minimise adverse impacts on the fabric and setting of the asset, and ensure that its special characteristics are protected, conserved or enhanced.

Further details on national planning policy in relation to planning and the historic environment are set out in Scottish Planning Policy (SPP).

The new national heritage body, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) took on full operational powers on October 1, 2015, following the merger of Historic Scotland and The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) into a new non-departmental public body (NDPB).

The new Historic Environment Circular, published on September 1, 2015 outlines the changes to the process of planning in relation to the historic environment and what this means for planning authorities. 


Following the creation of Historic Environment Scotland (HES) on October 1, 2015, Scottish Government’s Planning Decisions branch will be responsible for administering Scottish Ministers responsibilities in a number of areas.  This includes handling notified Listed Building Consents and Conservation Area Consents, where HES has advised against the granting of permission, Scheduled Monument consent where HES is minded to grant consent for works which exceed the minimum necessary to protect what is culturally significant about the monument, and other Ministerial casework such as Listed Building Compulsory Purchase Orders.  New notification directions covering listed building consent, conservation area consent and scheduled monument consent were issued on August 31, 2015, and new notification directions covering planning applications which have heritage impacts issued on September 30, 2015.  Contact planning.decisions@scot.gov.

In addition to any applications called-in for Ministers’ decision, the Division for Planning & Environmental Appeals (DPEA) will also consider a series of new appeals created by the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014, including appeals against Listing or Scheduling, or against Scheduled Monument Consent decisions and non-determination of applications.   Contact DPEA@gov.scot.

Please note that transitional cases i.e. scheduled monument, listed building and conservation area consent applications which were lodged before October 1, 2015, and planning applications where consultation with Historic Scotland took place before October 1,  2015, shall continue to be handled by Scottish Ministers as set out in the Historic Environment Circular 1(PDF).  They should be sent to LBCCACNotifications@scotland.gsi.gov.uk.