Heritage & Planning

Bath World Heritage Site

The  Bath World Heritage Site is protected in two ways. Firstly, individual buildings, monuments, gardens and landscapes are designated (listed) under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 and the 1979 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act. Secondly, the entire site is protected by national and local planning policy, as governed by the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Bath’s World Heritage Site status is a key material consideration in the consideration of planning applications, and local planning policy seeks to prevent harm either to the special qualities which justify the inscription of the site or to the setting of the site. The city is also protected by the guidance issued in Government Circular 07/2009 Protection of World Heritage Sites.

Bath City Wide Conservation Area

Conservation areas are ‘any areas of special architectural or historic interest the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’. They are protected under the same primary legislation as listed buildings, the Planning (Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas) Act 1990, which requires that ‘special attention shall be paid to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of that area’.

The Bath City Wide Conservation Area covers two thirds of the city (1,486 ha). The designation gives broader protection than the listing of buildings as all features are recognised as part of its character. The emphasis is on buildings and their settings, including the appearance, proportion, height, and massing of buildings; street patterns, building lines and exterior spaces; and roofscapes, views and skyline features. Architectural details such as windows and doors are also important. The character of the conservation area is protected by the national and local planning policies, and the Bath City-wide character appraisal.

The latter is a supplementary planning document and is therefore an integral part of local planning policy. It summarises the character and significance of Bath and provides guidance to enable future proposals for change to be considered n relation to the character of the city.

Listed Buildings

There are over 5000 listed buildings in Bath graded I, II* and II* to show their relative national importance. There is a statutory requirement, set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas) Act 1990, to protect listed buildings from inappropriate development that would harm their architectural or historic significance. Listed building consent is required for any works of demolition, alteration or extension that would in any way affect the character of the building. Local planning policies aim to protect the significance and character of listed buildings. National policies for listed buildings are detailed in Section 12 of the NPPF  and English Heritage, provide further guidance here.

Green Belt

The NPPF  makes clear the approach to development in the Green Belt. National and local policy aims to resist inappropriate development in the Green Belt, and protect, maintain and enhance the openness of the Green Belt and to protect, maintain and enhance rural character. Bath’s Green Belt is under constant threat of development.  (See Bath’s Countryside).

The Council has published supplementary planning guidance for existing dwelling in the Green Belt here.


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