Historic buildings that have survived for many generations are frequently the apotheosis of sustainable development and are a finite resource. The Council however accepts that both statutorily protected and locally important heritage assets, and the historic environment in general has a part to play in responding to climate change and the emerging energy deficit. However, some measures can dangerously restrict a structure's ability to breathe or result in long-term structural damage, whilst others can be visually obtrusive. As local planning authority, the general approach of the Council will be to support proposals to improve energy efficiency affecting heritage assets where it can be demonstrated that the health and integrity of the structure will not be harmed, and where new fixtures are sited in visually discreet locations.
The Council will assess each proposal on a case-by-case basis, and on a hierarchy of intervention based on significance and level of impact. For instance there will be times where little intervention will be possible but other occasions where a building will be able to accept a higher degree of alteration, change and adaptation.
The Council advocates a holistic and imaginative approach where benign and sensitive alternatives to the more generic approaches should be identified and considered first. These are often simple, inexpensive, undamaging and relate to appropriate and reasonable changes to occupant behaviours and lifestyle whilst utilising surviving historic features such as timber shutters, and the installation and use of simple draft exclusion. Recent research undertaken by Historic England has shown that simple changes and measures such as these can considerably improve energy efficiency while at the same time preserving the building's architectural interest and character. This is a requirement of primary legislation, Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 and central government policy. Historic England, which acts as the Government’s advisor regarding the historic environment in England has also produced relevant guidance, some of which can be found on this page.
Under Building Regulations Part L (2010) there are exemptions and special circumstances relating to heritage assets both statutorily protected and traditionally constructed buildings. You are therefore encouraged to seek advice regarding this matter from building control specialists.
In addition, the local planning authority's Core Strategy contains policies regarding energy efficiency and sustainability and the retrofitting of historic and traditional buildings. The Council's supplementary planning document Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Guidance for Listed Buildings and Undesignated Historic Buildings provides detailed guidance.
Alternative Energy Production: Potential Impact on the Setting of Heritage Assets
All proposed development such as wind or solar farms will need to take account of this and the potential impact on the setting of heritage assets should be thoroughly assessed and understood. The term heritage asset should be considered in its widest meaning and can include listed buildings, scheduled ancient monuments, conservation areas, undesignated historic buildings and settlements, historic landscapes including parks and gardens and archaeological sites. Such features can be sensitive to change for instance the setting of archaeological features such as surviving ancient field patterns, above ground archaeology such as stone circles, earthworks, significant industrial heritage assets and other features of heritage significance can be adversely affected by inappropriate development. Proposals for ground source heat pumps should also take account of below ground archaeology and the archaeological potential of a site and its significance should be fully assessed and understood prior to the commencement of any works that involve excavation. It is recommended that early consultation with the Council’s Archaeologist and the Historic Environment Record (HER) and the Planning & Conservation Team is undertaken.
Historic Building Guidance (external web links)
Alternative Energy Generation Guidance (external web links)
General Guidance (external web links)
Last updated: 11 January 2016