An aerial view of Ramsgate from the south-east, taken in 1920, which shows Pugin’s house and the neighbouring church in the foreground, and the town in the background.
West Cliff, Ramsgate, from the south-east, 1920 © Historic England (Aerofilms Collection) EPW000097 See more aerial photos
West Cliff, Ramsgate, from the south-east, 1920 © Historic England (Aerofilms Collection) EPW000097 See more aerial photos

Support for Place-Making and Design

Place-making is the process we use to shape our public spaces and buildings. Rooted in community-based participation, place-making involves planning, design, and management. It brings together diverse people (including professionals, elected officials, local groups, residents, and businesses) to improve a community’s cultural, economic, social and environmental situation. It’s often best achieved through a clear understanding of the historic significance of the existing place. A variety of methods can be used to understand places, such as characterisation studies and conservation area appraisals, and through techniques developed by organisations other than Historic England, such as Placecheck.

How does Historic England support place-making and design?

Our support of place-making includes supporting communities and planning authorities. Through our advice, research and listing we help to develop knowledge and awareness of historic places, identify buildings and places that are 'special' and contribute to developing local and neighbourhood plans. We also provide financial support through our grants to support exemplary projects and tackle heritage at risk.

Strategic Planning

Our advice on strategic, local and neighbourhood plans, as well as on individual applications, helps to identify ways to protect and enhance heritage whilst enriching and inspiring new development.

Area Assessments

Our characterisation projects and Historic Area Assessments (including via our new charged-for services) provide a deeper understanding of places.


Historic England, on behalf of the Secretary of State, identifies and defines the most important historic elements of a place from a national perspective. These are listed and defined in the online National Heritage List for England. In addition, local authorities have powers to designate conservation areas and to compile lists of locally important heritage assets. The variety of protected assets contributes to the character of places.


We run a number of grant schemes to help with the cost of caring for all sorts of buildings, monuments, areas and landscapes. They also help to develop skills and support participation within communities and in local planning authorities they support participation in place-making.

Heritage Action Zones

Through our Heritage Action Zones initiative, we're working to breathe new life into old places. By unleashing the power in England's historic environment to create economic growth, the initiative will improve quality of life in villages, towns and cities.

Historic England's place-making strategy

Historic places both reflect and shape who we are, bringing our history to life and telling the story of our collective identity. The Historic England Places Strategy sets out how we will help communities to transform the places they love, using the historic environment to deliver public value and demonstrating the catalytic effect it can have for good.

The Strategy was published in 2018 following conversations widely across Historic England and with external partners including Arts Council England, Homes England, and key government departments, the British Property Federation, the RIBA and Design Council (CABE). It has also benefited greatly from the substantial input from the Historic England Historic Places Panel.

Design in the historic environment

Historic England is actively promoting improved design quality in historic places by commissioning new guidance on Design Codes, updating its guidance on Tall Buildings and by preparing case studies which show examples of high-quality housing development.

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