What we're trying to achieve

[3.07.01] We want to protect and enhance the character, authenticity, integrity, setting and views of the historic environment and its heritage assets.

Policy 07: Historic environment

We will seek to conserve and enhance the significance of heritage assets, including the character, authenticity, integrity, setting and views of the historic environment which include:

  • designated heritage assets on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, or on the Schedule of Monuments; Registered Parks, Gardens and Battlefields; Conservation Areas; or The English Lake District or Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Sites;
  • locally important sites and features identified on the Lake District Historic Environment Record;
  • buildings and sites of heritage interest which are not statutorily designated, including local lists of buildings of heritage interest;
  • the historic character of settlements.

Where appropriate we will encourage the sympathetic reuse of buildings of archaeological or historic importance, which make a positive contribution to the landscape character or historic environment, and which reinforce local distinctiveness and sense of place. Where alterations to a building of archaeological or historic importance are proposed these must be sympathetic to its character, form, and original purpose.

Implementation guidance

[3.07.05] Decisions affecting the integrity of heritage assets must be taken with full understanding of the consequences. Proposals which would harm a heritage asset will not normally be permitted. We will therefore use a range of evidence to assess if development is appropriate and determine how the significance of archaeological and heritage assets may be affected by development proposals. This may include:

  • the use of Conservation Area Appraisals and Management Plans;
  • Lake District Historic Environment Record;
  • Historic Landscape Characterisation and relevant mapping that defines the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value;
  • ICOMOS Heritage Impact Assessments;
  • World Heritage Site Nominations documents for The English Lake District World Heritage Site and Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site;
  • Heritage Statements including statement of significance; and
  • desk-based assessments and, where necessary, a field evaluation and / or a historic building report.

[3.07.06] Alterations to a building of archaeological or historic importance — including non-designated heritage assets, such as field barns and other buildings, which form part of our cultural heritage, should be sympathetic to the character, form, setting, and original purpose. This does not preclude applications for a change of use rather the intention is to retain features associated with its original purpose and protect and enhance the significance of the asset. For example, if the building was originally for agricultural use then the alterations should not lose the original character and form of the building that denote its original function. Any reuse and / or alternations proposals should take into account the impact of associated infrastructure on the setting of the heritage asset and provide detail on how the proposal will protect and enhance the significance of the asset. We will support proposals that reduce energy consumption or incorporate renewable energy which do not detract from the historic character of the building.

Current situation

[3.07.02] Heritage assets are an irreplaceable resource and their effective conservation delivers wider social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits; therefore, decisions affecting their future must be taken with full understanding of the consequences. The Lake District has a rich archaeological heritage that extends from prehistory to the recent past. Significant remains include Neolithic stone circles and axe factories, Bronze Age settlements and burial cairns, Roman forts and roads, medieval abbeys and post medieval industrial sites. Many of these archaeological features are visible in the landscape but others are hidden under peat or pasture.

[3.07.03] Historic buildings in the Lake District are a crucial element of the historic environment. Small scale changes over time, especially the standardisation of building materials, and different methods of construction and external finishes, can erode the special character and appearance of buildings and places. Conservation is an active process of maintenance and managing change therefore local knowledge and survival of local skills, crafts, traditions and building techniques is crucial for conservation of the historic environment. It is important that the wider social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits of historic environment assets are maximised to ensure their conservation. Climate change can pose a significant threat to historic environment assets and its protection and resilience are important issues that need to be considered.

[3.07.04] It is therefore no surprise that the historic environment contributes enormously to the Lake District’s economy and to its attractiveness as a place to live and visit, helping to attract millions of visitors every year.

Case Study: Lowther Castle

Lowther castle before

Lowther Castle courtyard

Lowther castle after renovation

Lowther Castle had fallen into a state of serious disrepair. The ruins, attached stable block and a number of the surrounding structures are Grade II* listed. Planning permission was granted for the re-use of listed buildings and re-creation and re-interpretation of landscaped gardens. The ruined castle has been sensitively consolidated to prevent further deterioration. The stable block and courtyard has been restored along with the former gardens to create a successful tourist destination attracting 90,000 visitors per annum.

Images courtesy of Lowther Photography Project