How To Write a Winning Heritage Statement
If you want to build, extend or make any alterations to the facade of a listed dwelling or a building in either a Conservation Area or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) chances are the local planning department will want you to include a Heritage Statement in your application. Your case can be made or broken on your ability to sell your alterations as either beneficial or unobtrusive to the surrounding area.
Basic Structure – Writing A Heritage Statement
There isn’t a set formula to adhere to, and each local district will want slightly different things. If they do not provide a template then the following outline covers everything.
Start by setting out a formal letter. Have your contact details at the top right, under those on the left have the full address of the planning department for the local council. State the property address in a larger font in bold. Also include any planning application reference numbers. Don’t forget to include the words “Heritage Statement” clearly.
Follow this with map of the area covered by the relevant conservation area and highlight the property in question.
You can add here a few sentences about your proposition.
From here the rest of the letter should take the form of a question and response. There are a few basic premises you have to address:
1) Describe the Heritage Asset and its surroundings
• Which conservation area does the building from part of?
• What is the age of the building?
• What are the main characteristics in terms of style, building materials and architectural features e.g. window type?
• What is the surrounding development of the area like? Is the building part of a development of the same age and style, perhaps by the same builder?
• Describe the local (street) scene: Is it of residential or business/commercial character?
*Doesn’t need to be too in depth, a chatty bullet proof tone will do. Keep to the facts, don’t say “pretty round windows” say oriel frames.
2) Assess the significance of the building
• How does the building contribute to the historic character of the area?
• How visible or prominent is the building?
• Is it one of its kind? Is it part of group of buildings of similar style and age? Is it one of a pair of semi-detached, or part of a terrace in which the single house forms a unit within a lager entity?
• Are there any distinctive architectural features?
• How does the setting contribute to the character and appearance of the asset?
3) Explain the concept behind the new design
• Are you making a small extension in similar materials that will be indistinguishable, or are you adding a glass box to anElizabethan coach house to bring it into the 21st Century?
• What is the scale of the development – are you adding 5 or 50% to the property, and if so, why? (Don’t go on about personal reasons for why, state clearly the reasoning, for eg say “to create a more accessible entry way” instead of “my Grandmother is now in a wheelchair…”
4) Describe the impact on the landscape that your development will have
• Would the proposed development be visible from any public viewpoint?
• Would the proposed development involve loss or change to any original features?
• For extensions and new built: What would be the impact on the appearance, character and setting of the building?
• For small-scale alterations: If not a like-for like replacement – what would be the visual impact? Would it preserve and enhance the character and appearance of the building and street scene?
That should cover it. If you feel there is any other information you would like to address or include, then add another heading, the council use it as a guideline to understand the reason behind and the implications of your proposal.