Pier head and Canning Dock, Liverpool Merseyside.
Pier head and Canning Dock, Liverpool Merseyside © Historic England
Pier head and Canning Dock, Liverpool Merseyside © Historic England

Heritage and Sustainable Growth

The planning system in England is based on the principle of sustainable development and heritage has an increasingly important role in supporting sustainable growth. It is a huge resource which can stimulate regeneration and growth in towns, cities and rural areas.

Historic England supports and promotes the role of heritage and the built historic environment in sustainable growth.

Building the evidence base

The National Planning Policy Framework and the Planning Practice Guidance set out Government policy and provide information on how this is to be interpreted. The NPPF prioritises sustainable development and more details on the heritage sections can be found on our page on the Planning System.

Historic England's Social and Economic Research pages and publications provide an evidence base for heritage and sustainable growth.

The Heritage and the Economy advice note contains statistics which provide evidence for the following:

  • Heritage makes a significant contribution to the UK economy;
  • Heritage plays a key role in broader economic activity in the UK;
  • Heritage helps achieve sustainable growth.

Useful information can also be found in Heritage Counts. This annual review of England's historic environment is produced by Historic England on behalf of the heritage sector. 

Especially relevant to heritage and growth is the 2010 edition on the economic impact of the historic environment. This report contains research on the economic impact of regeneration and of heritage attractions.

Advice on sustainable growth

Historic England produces advice which gives further information on the historic environment and growth. It also demonstrates the potential uses for heritage in promoting growth. This should be read in the context of national policy and guidance.

Constructive Conservation

Historic England's approach to conservation reinforces the historic significance of places while allowing necessary changes for continued use.

Our flexible and collaborative approach is set out in our Constructive Conservation advice document. Using case studies, Constructive Conservation shows how the historic environment can contribute to sustainable growth, for example through job creation and business growth. 

Heritage Works

Heritage Works provides those involved in the development process with advice on successful heritage-based regeneration. It is a toolkit of good practice and provides a step-by-step guide on how to develop heritage-led regeneration projects.