More protection for historic parks and gardens

The new Levelling Up and Regeneration Act received Royal Assent in October and is now an Act of Parliament (law). 

Windsor deer park
Photo by Unleashed Agency on Unsplash

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 introduces planning reforms with two areas of primary significance to historic parks and gardens, namely the duty to have ‘special regard’ to the desirability of preserving or enhancing designated heritage assets and the statutory status for Historic Environment Records (HERs).

The new duty of regard means that development of land in England which affects a registered park or garden or its setting, is required to have special regard to preserving or enhancing any feature, quality, characteristic, or setting, that contributes to the park or garden’s special historic interest. Thereby providing additional protection for the conservation of historic parks and gardens across the country.

HERs have been a legal requirement, which means that local authorities are required to maintain these records. National planning policy now requires that HERs are to be used to assess the significance of heritage assets and the contribution they make to their environment, and will therefore play a crucial role in informing planning decisions.

According to The Gardens Trust, the new act is “… the biggest milestone in the conservation of historic parks and gardens since the power to create the Register was introduced in 1983”.

‘This news has been strongly welcomed across the archaeology sector, and concludes a long advocacy campaign by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) and others to secure this ask, which was to be a core component of the 2008 Heritage Protection Bill and has been sought ever since by alternative means. Thanks must be given to Historic England, who have advised Government on the relevance of HERs to levelling-up and the establishment of a more digital planning system during the Bill’s development, and to ALGAO and CBA, who have joined CIfA in advocating for the change over the past decade, and especially in the last 12 months”, state CIfA