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Managing historic character

Historic character makes every place unique and contributes to its significance, especially for local people.

By identifying historic character, we can compile an objective evidence base which can be used for many different purposes. It can inspire regeneration activity, planning, development and design to help sustain local distinctiveness. It can also help us to make informed decisions about what we keep, how we care for it and how we accommodate change so that we celebrate the individuality of a place and make the best use of its heritage. By working together, we can learn what makes a place special and encourage everyone to care for it.

Many activities can have an impact on historic character. Development and redevelopment, regeneration and renewal can each either reinforce or undermine character. But, when these activities take into account the historic character of a place they are more likely to have a positive impact on local distinctiveness.

Responding to historic character is not about preserving a place in aspic and trying to keep everything; nor is it about imposing another layer of designation or consent. But, it is about using the legacy of the past to inform and integrate new development and identify opportunities for positive change and enhancement.

Managing Historic Character in Wales explains why it is important to recognise historic character and use it as the base for conservation, regeneration and planning work. It shows how policies and programmes to manage change can take inspiration from the past to help create and sustain distinctive places for the future.

It encourages local planning authorities to set policies about local historic character in their local development plans which can be taken into consideration when determining or preparing planning applications.

Managing Historic Character in Wales, together with Managing Lists of Historic Assets of Special Local Interest in Wales, focuses on those aspects of local heritage that have considerable value for local communities, including those that are not designated for their special national interest or importance.

The best-practice guidance is aimed primarily at local authority conservation, planning, housing, regeneration and development departments, as well as Welsh Government departments. It will also be of interest to local communities and third sector organisations, as well as owners, developers and agents, who have a vital role in identifying, promoting and caring for local historic character.