Historic Environment Advice and Guidance in the Planning Process

The planning system has a key role in the conservation of our archaeological and built heritage. Appropriate development planning, development management and enforcement, can help to sustain vibrant communities, a strong economy, and realise the ongoing value of our historic environment.

HED’s role as Statutory Planning Consultees

Historic Environment Division’s (HED) responsibility to record, protect and provide advice on Northern Ireland’s historic environment requires that we provide advice to District Councils and Departmental planning authorities when they are;

  • preparing Local Development Plans
  • determining  planning applications with potential impacts on the  heritage assets we record and protect
  • investigating potential planning enforcement cases, with impacts on the heritage assets we record and protect

The detail of our planning role and the services standards we aim to provide is set out in our Services and Standards Framework.

When HED is consulted

The circumstances in which HED are consulted upon applications affecting the historic environment, are set out in the Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 and Schedule 3 of the GDPO 2015  and are further explained in the Consultation Guide: A guide to consulting HED on development management applications

How we assess proposals

The existing suite of Planning Policy Statements are currently retained under the transitional arrangements of The Strategic Planning Policy Statement. Planning Policy Statement 6 – Planning, Archaeology & the Built Heritage, outlines the main criteria that the Department will employ in assessing proposals which affect the archaeological or built heritage.  This policy will be replaced with local heritage planning policies once each council has  adopted a new Plan Strategy for the whole of their council area. 

The records we use

The department maintains the Historic Environment Record of Northern Ireland (HERoNI) and it is the principle record used when assessing planning applications. This archive is publically available and holds information on all elements of Northern Ireland's historic environment. HERoNI is used to identify the location and nature of both archaeological and built heritage assets which have the potential to be affected by a development proposal.

HED planning guidance documents

HED have created a range of documents which provide additional advice and guidance when considering the impact of proposed developments on Archaeology and Built Heritage.

Guidance on Archaeological Works in the Planning Process - The Department’s advice to planning authorities may require various forms of archaeological works to be undertaken as part of planning applications or in advance of development. This guidance document is aimed at applicants, agents, developers and archaeological consultants who may be responsible for archaeological works associated with development projects. It is intended to guide processes around archaeological works consistently throughout Northern Ireland

Guidance on Marine Licensing and the Historic Environment - Developers should be aware that construction or deposition works below the Mean High Water Spring Tide (MHWST) may also be subject to licensing under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. If any elements of the construction in a proposal cross the intertidal area below the MHWST mark, contact must be made with the Marine Licensing Team, DAERA Marine and Fisheries Division. HED advises DAERA on its obligations with regard to protecting sites of historic or archaeological interest in the Northern Ireland marine area

Guidance on Setting and the Historic Environment - This document sets out guidance on how HED develops advice to local councils, heritage consultants, and others on planning applications. It also covers land-use change that may have an impact upon the settings of heritage assets, and related designations such as Areas of Significant Archaeological Interest (ASAIs), Historic Parks, Gardens and Demesnes

Guidance on making changes to Listed Buildings: Making a better application for listed building consent - This document is aimed at helping applicants and agents understand the type of information required for a Listed Building Consent applications and is aimed at helping applicants avoid common omissions which may result in a request for further information.

Guidance on Scheduled Monument Consent - This document sets out guidance on what planning applicants should do if they wish to develop within the protected area of a Scheduled Monument. Where you believe intended works may directly impact within the scheduled area of a monument you are strongly advised to contact HED  for informal discussion at an early stage. Scheduled monument consent is required from HED for works in a scheduled area, regardless of whether planning permission or other permissions have been sought or obtained.

Guidance for Local Development Plans - The Regional Development Strategy 2035 (RDS) sets out regional guidance to “Conserve, protect, and where possible, enhance our built heritage and our natural environment”. It recognises that Northern Ireland has a rich and diverse historic environment that contributes to identity, sense of place and history. Councils are required to identify the main built and archaeological heritage features within its plan area so it can take account of the RDS and Strategic Planning Policy Statement requirements to inform the preparation of the Local Development Plans (LDPs). These guidance documents are aimed to assist Councils in the production of LDPs and should be considered alongside Department of Infrastructure Development Plan Practice notes.

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