Sevenoaks Society explain how they championed a Local Heritage List

Many civic societies have helped compile a Local Heritage List and are using it to ensure they have an extra "tool" to champion the local historic environment. This week, Michael Harrison, Sevenoaks Society explains the story behind the new Sevenoaks Society list.

I thought you might be interested to know that the Sevenoaks Society has compiled a local heritage list on behalf of the Sevenoaks District Council. Armed with selection criteria derived from online research, we have covered all 275 roads in the town with the help of at least 34 volunteers, some involved in the historical research and others involved in the surveying. The assets thereby identified were put before a Selection Panel consisting of Historic England, Kent County Council, Sevenoaks District Council, Sevenoaks Town Council, a local historian and a local architect. It resulted in the Selection Panel's approval of 460 assets for inclusion in the local list.

We divided the exercise into two tranches to make it more manageable. The first tranche has recently been approved formally by Sevenoaks District Council following a public consultation exercise. The second tranche has recently been approved by Sevenoaks District Council for public consultation. A policy document has recently been approved by Sevenoaks District Council for adoption as a Supplementary Planning Document. At the request of the Sevenoaks Society, it includes provision for the District Council to make Article 4 Directions relating to the demolition of locally listed buildings outside conservation areas and to demolition of locally listed boundary walls and railings. We were unable to persuade the District Council to make provision for Article 4 Directions relating to façade alterations of locally listed buildings.

It is, we understand, the first time in Kent that a local civic society has created a local heritage list on behalf of the local authority. As a result, we have, by invitation, given some presentations around the county to explain how we carried out the exercise. It has taken over 3 years to compile the list but it has proved to be a most enjoyable and worthwhile experience.

Do you have a similar experience to share? Get in touch with Sarah James here and let us know.

According to National Planning Policy Guidance, Local lists incorporated into Local Plans can be a positive way for the local planning authority to identify non-designated heritage assets against consistent criteria so as to improve the predictability of the potential for sustainable development. You can view the national guidance on Local Lists here:

Interested in learning more about Local Heritage Lists, why not watch this short video produced by Historic England explaining the benefit. Watch it here.