World Heritage Sites
Produced in partnership with Stephen Morgan of Landmark Chambers

The following Planning practice note produced in partnership with Stephen Morgan of Landmark Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • World Heritage Sites
  • Importance of World Heritage Sites (WHSs)
  • Statements of Outstanding Universal Value and management plans
  • Protection of the setting of WHSs
  • Consideration of WHSs within the planning system
  • WHSs and permitted development rights
  • Planning applications and WHSs—environmental statements
  • Planning applications and WHSs—design and access statements
  • Planning applications and WHSs—consultation
  • Planning applications and WHSs—material considerations
  • More...

World Heritage Sites

Importance of World Heritage Sites (WHSs)

The government is a signatory of the World Heritage Convention, which was established by UNESCO and which administers the global list of WHS. WHS are sites, places, monuments or buildings of Outstanding Universal Value to all of humanity. Signatories of the Convention must identify, protect and conserve their WHS for future generations.

WHSs in the UK include: Stonehenge, Kew Gardens, Maritime Greenwich Canterbury Cathedral, Saltaire, Hadrian’s Wall and the whole of the City of Bath.

Designation of a WHS by UNESCO brings no additional statutory controls. However, protection is afforded through the planning system — as set out below — as well as through the other designations because parts of WHS are often also designated as listed buildings (see Listed building consent—overview) or scheduled monuments (see Scheduled monuments).

The heritage significance of a WHS is referred to as its Outstanding Universal Value. This will often be reflected, at least in part, in the significance of any listed building or scheduled monument that forms part of it. Outstanding Universal Value means cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity.

Statements of Outstanding Universal Value and management plans

A Statement of Outstanding Universal Value is agreed and adopted by the World Heritage Committee for

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