Historic Environment Supplementary Planning Document Formal Consultation

Historic Environment SPD

1. Introduction


1.1 East Suffolk has an historic environment which is widely recognised as being of very high quality and importance. There are approximately 4,000 Listed buildings in the district and 52 Conservation Areas. Such heritage assets are complemented by the district's beautiful natural environment, for which the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB, registered and locally listed parks and gardens, river valley landscapes, visually sensitive skylines and seascapes, commons, woodlands and watercourses make significant contributions.

1.2 The local character and distinctiveness of East Suffolk are derived from the diversity of architecture, landscape and coastal setting. These have given rise to an architectural typology not just of farmhouses, picturesque cottages and churches but of resort tourism, military research and defense, fishing and agri-industry, park and garden structures, energy and landed estates. Buildings and structures that typify the East Suffolk area range from 16th century moot halls, a wide representation of 16th and 17th century farmhouses, the grandest Georgian country house in Suffolk, designed 18th and 19th century landscapes and 19th and 20th century military airfields, towers and pagodas.

Heveningham Hall (Kim Wilkie)

Heveningham Hall 2

Felixstowe Seafront Gardens

Felixstowe Seafront Gardens

Restored sign (Kelsale) 

(Kelsale-Cum-Carlton Parish Council – 2019)

Restored sign (Kelsale)

Woodbridge High Street

Woodbridge High Street

1.3 The landscape of the area is predominately arable, of rolling clayland fields with grazing water meadows in the valleys. This changes to the wetlands of the Broads National Park to the north and the Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the east. The area is served by numerous market towns, with larger port towns to the north and south. Lowestoft was founded on the fishing industry, expanded greatly with the coming of the steam age, resulting in many Victorian and Edwardian buildings, including examples of Arts and Crafts movement. Coastal resorts also typify the district, including Aldeburgh, Southwold and Felixstowe with an impressive heritage of boarding house, convalescent homes and hotels.

1.4 East Suffolk Council is not only very aware of the value of this rich heritage to local communities, the tourism industry, as well as the wellbeing of those it touches, but also, as Local Planning Authority, the responsibility it has for ensuring that the area's attractiveness and architectural and landscape heritage is properly conserved and where possible enhanced.

1.5 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) describes the historic environment as 'all aspects of the environment resulting from the interaction between people and places through time, including all surviving physical remains of past human activity, whether visible, buried or submerged, and landscaped and planted or managed flora.' The NPPF further defines heritage assets as 'a building, monument, site, place, area or landscape identified as having a degree of significance meriting consideration in planning decisions, because of its heritage interest'. The definition includes designated heritage assets, such as Listed Buildings, Conservation Areas, Scheduled Monuments and Registered Parks and Gardens, as well as non-designated heritage assets (NDHAs). East Suffolk's buried heritage is recognised as an important contributor to our unique and varied historic environment, however the responsibility for archaeology rests with Suffolk County Council and for this reason the document will focus on providing guidance relating to East Suffolk's built heritage and historic parks and gardens. Suffolk County Council's Archaeological Service  provides archaeological advice throughout the planning process. This can entail early consideration of potential archaeological impacts from proposed development, through to the monitoring and assessment of archaeological investigation works.

Martello Towers (Slaughden)

Martello Towers (Slaughden)


1.6 The guidance contained in this Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) will assist in the implementation of policies detailed in the Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans for East Suffolk regarding the historic environment, and as an SPD this guidance will, when adopted, be a material consideration in determining applications for planning permission and Listed Building Consent. This SPD does not cover parts of East Suffolk that are within the Broads National Park, for which the Broads Authority is the local planning authority.

1.7 This document provides important information and advice concerning the conservation and enhancement of the historic environment, in relation to any proposal potentially affecting the significance of a heritage asset. Although listed buildings and conservation areas carry special statutory protections, as detailed in the Legal Framework section below, registered and locally listed historic parks and gardens and other non-designated heritage assets also have heritage value worthy of protection. The guidance within this document may also be relevant in respect of development to unlisted buildings of no particular heritage value on their own, due to the affect that such development may have on a nearby heritage asset. Having a wider acknowledgement and understanding of the value of East Suffolk's heritage and the policies of the Local Plans will help to ensure that development conserves and where possible enhances the historic environment. The information and advice contained in this document is of a general nature and that its applicability will vary according to circumstances.

This SPD replaces the following Supplementary Planning Guidance and Supplementary Planning Documents:

  • Suffolk Coastal Supplementary Planning Guidance 1: Redundant Buildings in the Countryside (1991 and updated in 2004)
  • Suffolk Coastal Supplementary Planning Guidance 6: Historic Parks and Gardens (1995)
  • Suffolk Coastal Supplementary Planning Guidance 13: Historic Buildings: Repairs, Alterations and Extensions (1997)
  • Suffolk Coastal Supplementary Planning Guidance 14: Shopfronts, Signs and Advertisements (2000)
  • Waveney Supplementary Planning Document: Built Heritage and Design (2012)

Planning Policy

1.8 The East Suffolk Council Local Plans - the Suffolk Coastal Local Plan and the Waveney Local Plan - as well as 'made' Neighbourhood Plans and the Minerals and Waste Local Plans produced by Suffolk County Council, form the development plan for the district (outside of the Broads Authority who produce their own Local Plan). The conservation and enhancement of the historic environment is an integral part of delivering on the many objectives of the Local Plans. Many Neighbourhood Plans across East Suffolk also contain policies for the conservation of the historic environment, some of which have sought to identify locally important NDHAs.

1.9 The Local Plans set out a spatial vision and strategies for the period to 2036. Policies SCLP11.3-11.8 of the Suffolk Coastal Local Plan and Policies WLP8.37-8.40 of the Waveney Local Plan specifically relate to the historic environment, emphasise the importance of preserving and enhancing the historic environment and cover all heritage assets, not just historic buildings. Within East Suffolk's countryside there are a number of historically valuable buildings which over time have become unused. Policies in both Local Plans provide opportunities for these to be converted for residential use as a means of enabling continued use of these buildings recognising their contribution to the landscape and the history of East Suffolk. The key Local Plan policies to which this SPD relates are listed in Table 1 below.

1.10 The guidance in this SPD is also complementary to the Government's NPPF and Planning Practice Guidance to which the Council must have regard, as a material consideration, in reaching decisions on planning applications and applications for Listed Building Consent. Of particular significance are NPPF Paragraphs 184-202 and the Planning Practice Guidance section on the 'Historic environment'. These paragraphs set out the national policy approach to the conservation and enhancement of the historic environment, within which emphasis is placed on allowing heritage assets to evolve and take on new uses if the purpose for which they were built is no longer viable or relevant. Critically, where development affects heritage assets, the presence of such assets should be viewed as an opportunity to enhance the significance of such heritage assets, as well as the design quality of the local area.

1.11 There is a considerable amount of further guidance on the Council's website, and Historic England have also produced numerous documents providing practical guidance. Information pertaining to the district's Conservation Areas in the form of Appraisals and Management Plans, in addition to guidance on NDHAs can also be found on the Council's website.

Local Planning Policy -Suffolk Coastal Local Plan

SCLP11.3 - Historic Environment

SCLP11.4 - Listed Buildings

SCLP11.5 - Conservation Areas

SCLP11.6 - Non-Designated Heritage Assets

SCLP11.7 - Archaeology

SCLP11.8 - Parks and Gardens of Historic or Landscape Interest

SCLP5.5 - Conversion of Buildings in the Countryside for housing

Local Planning Policy - Waveney Local Plan

WLP8.37 - Historic Environment

WLP8.38 - Non-Designated Heritage Assets

WLP8.39 - Conservation Areas

WLP3.40 - Archaeology

WLP8.11 - Conversion of Rural Buildings to Residential Use

Table 1. Planning policies related to the historic environment.