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What heritage significance is

Heritage significance is the non-monetary value that is placed on features of the historic environment by people past, present and future. This may relate to physical traits such as the survival of historic fabric or the appearance of a building, or intangible qualities such as a commemorative role or the atmosphere of a place. These are known as heritage values. Different types of heritage assets derive their significance from different values, but a heritage asset may have more than one heritage value. Collectively, this makes up its heritage significance.

The National Planning Policy Framework identifies four heritage values:

  • archaeological
  • architectural
  • artistic
  • historic.

The Historic England publication Conservation Principles identifies equivalent values of evidential, aesthetic and historic, but also includes communal. Communal value recognises the important role heritage assets can play in communities as the physical representation of traditions, events, activities and individuals – for example, war memorials or a site that has been the home of a local fair or market for centuries. For future generations to experience the same enjoyment, curiosity and insight into the past that we experience now, it is our responsibility to care for our historic environment now and to pass it on.

Further guidance on the different types of heritage values and criteria for local list designation can be found on the 'Types of Heritage value' webpage.


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