Aylesbury Vale Area

VALP Proposed Submission

Ended on the 14 December 2017
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8 Built Environment

Heritage assets

(2) 8.1 The historic environment is an asset of great cultural, social, economic and environmental value. It contributes significantly to our quality of life and to the character of the district, representing a non-renewable resource that once lost is gone forever. Heritage assets are defined as those parts of the historic environment that have significance because of their historic, archaeological, architectural or artistic interest, over and above their functional utility. Significance can be made up of many different aspects of an asset's interest, and may be harmed by development directly affecting the physical fabric of the asset or within the setting of the asset.

8.2 There are many different types of heritage asset; some are formally designated, others are non-designated. The Council's aim is to protect and enhance the district's heritage assets through the identification of those of local significance and through ensuring that development is managed in a way that sustains or enhances their significance and setting. The effect of a planning application on the significance of a designated or non-designated heritage asset should be taken into account in determining any application. The LPA will require an applicant to describe the significance of any heritage asset affected including any contribution made by their setting. As a minimum the Historic Environment Record should have been consulted and the heritage assets assessed using appropriate expertise.

8.3 In weighing up applications that affect directly or indirectly non-designated heritage assets, a balanced judgement will be required having regard to the scale of any harm or loss and the significance of the heritage asset.

Designated heritage assets

(1) 8.4 Designated heritage assets are a World Heritage site, scheduled monument, listed building, registered park and garden, registered battlefield, or conservation area. Designated heritage assets are protected by statute, as set out in relevant legislation, as well as by policy contained within the NPPF.

Listed buildings

(1) 8.5 Listed buildings are buildings or structures which are included on the national List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. They are nationally designated heritage assets. Buildings are listed by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, based on recommendations from Historic England. Anyone can nominate a building for listing via the Historic England website. Any building or structure may be added to the list, as long as it meets the agreed criteria for listing for that type of asset. These agreed criteria are drawn up by Historic England, and are available from its website.

8.6 There are over 3,000 listed buildings, bridges, statues and other structures in the district. Over 200 of these listed buildings are recorded as Grades I or II* with  the remainder being  recorded as Grade II. Most of the buildings in Aylesbury Vale were listed between 1970 and 1990 as the result of programme of parish-wide building surveys. A number of new buildings have been added to the lists since then as a result of requests for individual listings. Others, including 20th century concrete structures and war memorials have been added to the list as a result of Historic England's thematic listing programme.

8.7 The special interest of a listed building may be adversely affected by alterations or extensions to its physical fabric, or by development within the curtilage or development within the setting. The objective of listing buildings is to ensure their protection for future generations to enjoy. In addition to the normal planning application process, listed building consent is required for all works that would affect a building's special interest. 

8.8 The requirement for listed building consent ensures that checks and balances are in place to prevent harm to the structure and interest of a listed building. This protection applies to the whole of a listed building or structure, and to other ancillary structures that sit within the curtilage of the listed building that were in existence  before 1July 1948 and  in the  curtilage of the  building or structure at the time of listing. The need for consent extends to all works, both external and internal.

8.9 Listed building consent is required for any works that affect the character of the building including alterations, extensions, and demolition. It is a criminal offence to carry out unauthorised works to a listed building. If unauthorised work has taken place to a listed building an enforcement notice may be served requiring the work either to be remedied of reversed. In determining applications relating to listed buildings, the Council has a statutory duty to have a special regard to the desirability of preserving any listed building or its setting, or any features of special architectural or historic interest that it possesses. The Council is also required under NPPF to consider whether the proposal will cause harm to the significance of the heritage asset. If harm is likely to be caused, this must be weighed in the wider planning balance.

Conservation areas

8.10 Conservation areas are areas of special historic or architectural interest, the special character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance. Conservation areas are locally designated heritage assets. Conservation areas are designated by Aylesbury Vale District Council, according to  strategy set out in the AVDC Conservation Areas Supplementary Planning Document (adopted March 2011).

8.11 Conservation areas can include groups of listed or non-Listed buildings, historic village greens and open spaces, important trees, unusual distinctive historic field patterns closely associated with a historic settlement (where these have a district-wide significance), historic parkland, linear features such as canals and railways, well-preserved archaeological remains and/or surviving historic street patterns. When defining a conservation area it is the special architectural or historic interest of the whole area, rather than the merits of individual buildings and features, that is important. Interest may be characterised by uniformity of architectural style or variety.

8.12 Most of the district's 120 conservation areas were designated originally in the 1980s and 1990s, (while some date from the 1960s) and roughly half have been reviewed in the last 10 years.  The Council continues to review designations to ensure that they are up to date and that conservation area boundaries are appropriately defined. Any development, be it construction, demolition, alteration, extension, or change of use, has the potential to impact upon the character or appearance of a conservation area. Whilst positive change should be welcomed as an important part of the organic growth of a settlement, there is always a risk that development may harm an area's special interest.

8.13 Similarly, development immediately adjacent to, or within the setting of, a conservation area can greatly influence the character and appearance of the area. Development that does not reflect the traditional form, layout and scale of buildings within the conservation area can have an adverse effect. Conservation area designation is intended to recognise and define that which is special about a place, and therefore what the character and appearance of the area it is that is desirable to preserve or enhance.

8.14 Within a conservation area the amount of development which may be taken without planning permission is reduced. The increased requirement to seek permission for development is intended to ensure that the correct checks and balances are in place to prevent harm to the significance of the heritage asset. In determining applications relating to conservation areas, the Council has a statutory duty to pay special attention to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of the conservation area. The Council is also required under NPPF to consider whether the proposal will cause harm to the significance of the heritage asset. If harm is likely to be caused, this must be weighed in the wider planning balance.

Registered historic parks and gardens

8.15 Registered historic parks and gardens are sites which have been assessed to be of particular significance, in terms of the special historic interest. They are nationally designated heritage assets. Historic England has been enabled by Government to compile a register of historic parks and gardens. Anyone can nominate a park or garden for inclusion on the register via the Historic England website. The register includes gardens, grounds and other planned landscapes and open spaces. The register focuses on the interest of the designed landscape, rather than on planting or botanical species. The majority of sites registered are the grounds of historic private houses, but public parks and cemeteries can also be included.

8.16 Within the district there are nine parks and gardens of special historic interest included in the national register. They are graded in a similar way to listed buildings. Development within or affecting the setting of a historic parks and garden can affect the significance of the asset. The purpose of registering historic parks and gardens is to celebrate designed landscapes of note and to define the elements that make it important or distinctive, and to ensure appropriate protection. The inclusion of a historic park or garden in the register carries obligations on the Local Planning authority to consult Historic England and the Garden History Society on all applications for development likely to affect the area of special interest. In considering the impact of a proposal the Council will have regard to the  special character of the park or garden and public views within, into or from it. The Council will also consider the impact of development upon the significance of the heritage asset.

Scheduled monuments

(1) 8.17 Scheduled monuments are sites of national archaeological importance. They are nationally designated heritage assets. Scheduling of sites as ancient monuments is the oldest form of heritage protection, and started in 1882. The primary purpose of scheduling a monument is to preserve it for the future and to protect it from damage, destruction, or any unnecessary interference. The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport designates scheduled monuments, based on recommendations from Historic England. Sites from all periods are eligible for inclusion on the schedule as long as they meet the criteria adopted by Historic England for scheduling of that asset type.

8.18 There are 61 sites in the district that are included in the statutory schedule of ancient monuments. A list of sites is maintained by Historic England, and is available on their website[38]. Development which affects the physical remains of a scheduled monument, or which affects their setting, may harm the significance of the heritage asset. Scheduling is intended to identify those sites which would particularly benefit from close management, primarily by Historic England.

8.19 The consent of the Secretary of State is required for any proposals that may affect the special interest of a scheduled monument. This scheduled monument consent can cover any works affecting a scheduled monument either above or below ground, including groundworks, demolition, destruction, damage, removal, repair, alteration, addition, flooding or tipping operations. Consent may even be required to enter a scheduled monument with digging machinery. Where an application for planning permission affects a scheduled monument, the Council will consult with Historic England, and will take advice as to the likely impact of that development upon the significance of the heritage asset.

Non-designated heritage assets

8.20 A non-designated heritage asset can be a building, monument, site, place, area or landscape identified as having a degree of significance meriting consideration in planning decisions.

8.21 Significance is the value of a heritage asset to this and future generations because of its heritage interest that can be archaeological, architectural, artistic or historic. Every effort will be taken to identify non-designated heritage assets as early as possible in the planning process.

(1) 8.22 The criteria for defining significance (below)  will be used by the Council as Local Planning authority to establish if any potential non-designated heritage asset that is a building or structure meets the definition in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This will be done  at an early stage in the process, as advised by the National Planning Practice Guidance. Development proposals affecting an identified non-designated heritage asset will be subject to the requirements of the NPPF at Section 12: Conserving and enhancing the historic environment and including paragraphs 131 and 135.

Non-designated buildings and structures

8.23 Within the AVDC Conservation Area Appraisals a number of buildings are identified as 'Buildings of Local Note'. These buildings, as well as forming part of the designated conservation area are also considered to be non-designated heritage assets in their own right. From time to time other non-designated heritage asset buildings may be identified through the planning process.

8.24 Where applications affect the significance of these assets, the likely harm that will be caused is weighed in the planning balance, and weight is placed on the conservation of these assets. Where it is not practicable to retain a building which is considered to be a non-designated heritage asset, the Council will expect to see a full appraisal of the significance of the building and the reasons why it is not practicably repairable or reusable submitted as part of the planning application. In addition the Council may require a full record of the building to be made prior to demolition.

Archaeological remains

8.25 There are a number of known and identified sites of archaeological importance, known as Archaeological Notification Areas listed on the County Historic Environment Record system. From time to time other sites of archaeological interest may become apparent as a result of the planning process. The Council is committed to protect these sites from development that would damage or endanger them and will afford protection to archaeological remains in accordance with their archaeological importance.

8.26 Applications for development of sites containing or likely to contain archaeological remains will require an archaeological field evaluation. It is recommended  that prospective developers consult the Council at pre-application stage in this respect. The Council will expect proposals for sites containing important archaeological remains to be preserved, where possible, in situ, i.e. preservation undisturbed in the monument's existing location and setting. Where preservation in situ is not justified, the Council will seek preservation by record. This involves digging the site, exposing and removing whatever archaeological remains are found and making a record of the findings. The developer will be required to make satisfactory arrangements for the excavation and recording of the archaeological remains and the publication of the results. This will be achieved by the imposition of suitable conditions and/or agreement between the Council and the developer.

Defining significance

8.27 An understanding of the significance of any heritage asset, whether designated or non-designated, lies at the heart of all decision making. Without understanding the significance of an asset it may not be possible to make an accurate assessment of the impact that a development will have on that significance. The significance of a heritage asset is based on its key heritage values. These values are defined by Historic England as the historic, evidential, aesthetic and communal values. By understanding the heritage values of an asset it is possible to assess the archaeological or architectural interest of a building, structure or site. Finally, the setting of an asset can contribute a great deal to its significance, by virtue of its positive impact on understanding the heritage values and interest of the asset as a whole. The definitions of heritage values and interest below have been prepared with specific reference to Historic England's Conservation Principles – Policies and Guidance for the Sustainable Management of the Historic Environment and Good Practice Guide for Local Heritage Listing.


8.28 Evidential value is the potential of a place to yield evidence about past human activity. This can include land use, the hierarchy of places, historic building techniques, fashion and trends in architectural design. The setting of places, for example the rural hinterland of the Vale's villages, can contribute to this value as it shows historic linkages between places and economic functions.


8.29 Historic value lies in the ways in which past people, events and aspects of life can be connected through a place to the present and is often illustrative or associative. The links between places and people or events in history feeds into this value, and the tangible way in which modern day settlements have been affected by historic events (such as the setting up of a mediaeval market square) is key to understanding the development of a place.


8.30 The intellectual and sensory impact of a place creates its aesthetic value. This may be as simple as the appreciation of a historic house and garden for its beauty, or the less formal glimpsed views around an historic settlement.


8.31 The collective experience or memory of a place and the meaning that it holds for people who relate to it form the communal value of an asset. In terms of publicly accessible places and spaces this is often fairly easy to define, but is harder to interpret for areas that are not easily visible to communities. Neighbourhood plans and associated documents offer a good opportunity to try to define the communal value of a place or heritage asset.

Archaeological interest

(2) 8.32 Archaeological interest refers to an above-ground archaeological site or historic building recorded in the Buckinghamshire County Council Historic Environment Record. Identification of archaeological interest will be made in conjunction with the Buckinghamshire County Council Archaeological Service. Sub-surface archaeological interest is considered and advised on separately by the service.

Architectural interest

8.33 The architectural interest of a building or structure may be aesthetic, based on the intrinsic design value derived from local styles, materials, workmanship or any other distinctive local characteristic. It may be in part derived from the local context of a place, or an association with a known architect or designer of regional or national note.

8.34 The integrity of a building or structure may add to its interest – a degree of intactness and lack of harmful external alteration may make a building more significant.  Equally, the ongoing organic development and growth of a building over centuries may be what gives it its value and interest.

8.35 If a building sits as a landmark, by virtue of its design, age, innovation, construction, position, use or communal associations contributes, within the local scene or as a valuable member of a group of buildings this may also add to its interest.


8.36 The setting of a heritage asset is the surroundings within which the asset may be experienced. It is not fixed and may evolve over time. Elements within a setting may be positive, negative or neutral, and so the ability to appreciate setting may be harmed or improved by development within the setting of an asset. Setting must not be confused with curtilage, to avoid confusion with residential curtilage for permitted development rights as this may differ.


8.37 Curtilage in heritage terms, refers to an area around a building and, with listed structures, the extent of curtilage is defined by consideration of ownership, both past and present, functional association and layout. The setting of a historic asset will include, but generally be more extensive than, its curtilage

Heritage at Risk

(1) 8.38 Investing in historic buildings can have a direct impact on the quality of life of residents. Many buildings at risk have a rich historic legacy and contribute to local identity. The repair and refurbishment of declining and/or derelict historic buildings can often be a catalyst in encouraging confidence and investment in an area.

(1) 8.39 Wherever practicable the Council will support endeavours to repair and reuse heritage assets in a manner appropriate to their significance and to provide long-term viable uses for buildings and structures that are vacant and at risk. The Council will continue to feed into national projects to record Heritage at Risk, such as the Historic England Heritage Counts surveys, and will support local communities who wish to partake in these projects. The Council will continue to work with Historic England to identify options for known Heritage Assets at Risk within the district.

(13) BE1 Heritage assets

The historic environment, unique in its character, quality and diversity across the Vale is important and will be preserved or enhanced. All development, including new buildings, alterations, extensions, changes of use and demolitions, should seek to conserve heritage assets in a manner appropriate to their significance, including their setting, and seek enhancement wherever possible.

Proposals for development shall contribute to heritage values and local distinctiveness. Where a development proposal is likely to affect a designated heritage asset and or its setting, the significance of the heritage asset and the impact of the proposal must be fully assessed and supported in the submission of an application. Heritage statements and/or archaeological evaluations will be required for any proposals related to or impacting on a heritage asset and/or known possible archaeological site.

Proposals which affect the significance of a non-designated heritage asset should be properly considered, weighing the direct and indirect impacts upon the asset and its setting. There will be a presumption in favour of retaining heritage assets wherever practical, including archaeological remains in situ, unless it can be demonstrated that the harm will be outweighed by the benefits of the development.

The Council will:

  1. Support development proposals that do not cause harm to, or which better reveal the significance of heritage assets
  2. Require development proposals that cause substantial harm to, or loss of a designated heritage asset and its significance, including its setting, to provide a thorough heritage assessment setting out a clear and convincing justification as to why that harm is considered acceptable. Where that case cannot be demonstrated proposals will not be supported unless the harm or loss is necessary to achieve substantial public benefits that outweigh the harm or loss and accord with the requirements of national guidance, and
  3. Require development proposals that cause less than substantial harm to a designated heritage asset to weigh the level of harm against the public benefits that may be gained by the proposal, including securing its optimum viable use.

Developments affecting a heritage asset should achieve a high quality design in accordance with adopted SPD and the Council will encourage modern, innovative design which respects and complements the heritage context in terms of scale, massing, design, detailing and use.

Design of new development

(1) 8.40 Good design of the built environment and landscape as part of new development is a key priority in preserving and enhancing the quality of the built environment in Aylesbury Vale. A design-led approach is required that respects the vernacular character of towns and villages, and where development in the countryside is necessary or appropriate, new development respects the existing character and visual amenity of  rural landscapes and buildings.

8.41 The character of settlements differs across the district, particularly in the building materials used in vernacular buildings, reflecting the changing geology and geography. Local building traditions determine this local distinctiveness through their siting and the use of local materials and building styles. It is vital that new development reflects the scale and characteristics of its surroundings and adds to the built quality of the area.

8.42 The key to the Council's approach towards the design of new development is a focus on local distinctiveness. This refers to the unique quality of buildings, landscape and topography in a locality that defines its character. Within the district there is a wide variety of landscape character types, from the nationally recognised natural beauty of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), to the locally important pattern of fields, hedgerows and streams in other parts of the district. Similarly, there is a wide range of settlements with distinctive characteristics such as the narrow roads and high walls of Haddenham and Chearsley, to the wide main street and limestone houses of Thornborough. Designs or layouts that may be entirely acceptable in one part of the district may not be appropriate elsewhere.

(1) 8.43 The Council wishes to conserve and enhance these distinctions between areas of the district and neighbouring districts and to reinforce a sense of place by requiring development to be appropriate to its context. This will be especially important in areas recognised for their landscape or townscape quality, i.e. the designated special landscape areas and conservation areas.

8.44 The historic environment can be an important component of local distinctiveness. Development that respects the historic characteristics of its surroundings will be encouraged. Modern developments should look towards the same qualities in order to be appropriate to their setting. That is not to suggest that previous styles should be reproduced or to discourage innovation in building styles but rather to ensure that development respects existing architectural styles. The Council wishes to encourage development that has an individual identity that either complements or forms an attractive contrast with its surroundings.

8.45 A supplementary planning document (SPD) will be prepared setting out detailed guidance relating to design of new development.

(13) BE2 Design of new development

All new development proposals shall follow the guidance set out within the Council's design SPD and shall respect and complement:

  1. The physical characteristics of the site and its surroundings including the scale and context of the site and its setting
  2. The local distinctiveness and vernacular  character of the locality, in terms of ordering, form, proportions, architectural detailing and materials
  3. The natural qualities and features of the area, and
  4. The effect on important public views and skylines.

Protection of the amenity of residents

8.46 It is a central theme of planning that good neighbourliness and fairness are among the most important factors against which development proposals should be measured. While planning decisions should always be made on balance in the public interest, this should not be at the expense of unreasonable harm to peoples' peaceful enjoyment of their property. Most development will have some impact on its neighbours, but it is important to ensure that this impact is reasonable in relation to the benefits of the development.

8.47 Amenity can be harmed in a number of ways, for example by privacy, noise, light pollution, fumes or odours, excessive or speeding traffic, loss of light, and/or the overbearing nature of a new structure which would impact on the character of outlook. Aylesbury Vale is a valued place in which to live, and the Council aims to protect this aspect of its residential environment.

(3) BE3 Protection of the amenity of residents

Planning permission will not be granted where the proposed development would unreasonably harm any aspect of the amenity of existing residents and achieve a satisfactory level of amenity for future residents. Where planning permission is granted, the Council will use conditions or planning obligations to ensure that any potential adverse impacts on neighbours are eliminated or appropriately controlled.

Density of new development

8.48 Land is a finite resource and it is Government policy to make best use of what is available by promoting sustainable housing developments.  Central to this policy is the need to use land efficiently taking into account level of demand, availability of suitable land, future level and capacity of infrastructure, services and facilities, provision of open space, impacts on climate change, accessibility and public transport, characteristics of the area, and proposed mixes of use.

(7) BE4 Density of new development

Proposed densities of developments should reflect those of their surroundings, and will be determined on a site-by-site basis. Where large scale developments are proposed, particularly towards the edge of settlements, higher density areas should be located towards the centre of the sites whilst the rural edge should be a lower density.

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