Policy GP/HA: Conservation and enhancement of heritage assets

DRAFT version for various committee meetings.

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What will this policy do?

This policy will control development that involves or affects Greater Cambridge’s historic buildings or structures and its historic places.

Proposed policy direction

Proposals affecting heritage assets will be considered in accordance with the guidance set out in the National Planning Policy Framework.

Recognising the important contribution heritage assets of various types make to Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire, the policy will require that proposals properly consider the historic environment and make a positive contribution to local character.

Development will be required to demonstrate how it preserves or enhances the significance of the heritage assets of the Greater Cambridge, their setting and the wider townscape, including views into, within and out of conservation areas.

The Local Plan will also continue to recognise the importance of local heritage assets (including buildings of local importance). We will include the criteria for the selection of these assets.

The policy will also require the appropriate treatment of archaeology.

Why is this policy needed?

Greater Cambridge’s historic and natural environments define the character and setting of the City and rural areas, contributing significantly to quality of life and forming a very significant part of the backdrop to a successful and growing area.  Greater Cambridge has a varied heritage, from the internationally recognised grandeur of King’s College Chapel to the vernacular buildings of villages in the varied landscapes on the south Cambridgeshire countryside. The number of conservation areas is high, as is the number of grade I and grade II* listed buildings. Within the city of Cambridge there is an exceptional concentration of significant collegiate buildings around the arc of the River Cam. Open spaces such as the fens, commons, greens and The Backs are also key historic and green features of Greater Cambridge. There are a number of registered parks and gardens of special historic interest, including estates such as Wimpole, college grounds, and the Botanic Garden. The policy is needed to ensure the quality of all of this is protected and to ensure that environmental objectives are attained in the delivery of sustainable development.

To support plan making a Strategic Historic Impact Assessment (SHIA) has been commissioned. This includes a baseline study of the setting of Cambridge, with a focus on identifying the key aspects of that setting and the character of the City that contribute to its significance as a historic place. This informed a strategic assessment of the growth strategy options considered which has informed the proposals in this consultation.

Consideration of heritage issues was an important criteria within the Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment where potential sites were tested. It is intended to carry out a full Heritage Impact Assessment of sites at the Draft Local Plan stage.

Other policy approaches proposed in this consultation will help maintain the significance of Cambridge as an historic city via protection and enhancement of landscape character of Cambridge and the River Cam; the approach to tall buildings; progression of a Management Plan for the historic core.

What consultation have we done on this issue?

Responses to the First Conversation highlighted the importance of the historic environment in Greater Cambridge, from the historic core of Cambridge through to village Conservation areas. Development could provide opportunities to enhance the historic environment, but also that it must be carefully considered to ensure impacts are fully assessed. A strategy for protecting and enhancing the historic environment should be an important part of the plan.

What alternatives did we consider?

No policy, and relying on national guidance – Not considered a reasonable alternative due to the requirements to set out a strategy regarding heritage, and the need to respond to local issues.

Supporting evidence studies and topic papers

  • Greater Cambridge Local Plan: Topic paper 5: Great Places
  • Greater Cambridge Strategic Heritage Impact Assessment (2021)

Existing policies in adopted 2018 Local Plans

South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018

  • Policy NH/14: Heritage Assets

Cambridge Local Plan 2018

  • Policy 61: Conservation and enhancement of Cambridge’s historic environment
  • Policy 62: Local heritage assets
  • Policy 64: Shopfronts, signage and shop security measures

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