Nationally significant infrastructure projects - Advice Note Eleven, Annex E: Working with public bodies in the infrastructure planning process – Historic England

Updated 29 April 2024

Applies to England and Wales

1. Introduction

This is Annex E to of Planning Inspectorate Advice Note 11. Advice Note 11 covers many of the points of interaction relevant to the Planning Inspectorate and the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England (Historic England). However, there are some specific points that have not been addressed in the Advice Note and which require clarification and these are dealt with in this Annex.

This Annex will be kept under review to ensure that it remains relevant and up to date, for example because of future organisational or legislative changes affecting Historic England and/or the Planning Inspectorate.

One of the purposes of this Annex is to provide advice to applicants in order to improve engagement between applicants and Historic England. The Planning Inspectorate and Historic England encourage direct engagement between applicants and Historic England at a sufficiently early point at the pre-application stage.

2. Historic England’s Statutory Role

The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England (Historic England), was established by the National Heritage Act 1983. It seeks to broaden public access to England’s historic environment, increase people’s understanding and appreciation of the past, and conserve and enhance the historic environment. This includes 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.
It has general duties under Section 33 of the 1983 Act to:

(a) secure the preservation of ancient monuments and historic buildings situated in England;
(b) promote the preservation and enhancement of the character and appearance of conservation areas situated in England; and
(c) promote the public’s enjoyment of, and advance their knowledge of, ancient monuments (any structure, work, site (including the remains of any vehicle, vessel, aircraft or other movable structure) garden or area which Historic England identifies as of historic, architectural, traditional, artistic or archaeological interest), and historic buildings situated in England and their preservation,

Historic England is a statutory consultee in the planning system in relation to the historic environment and handles applications for Scheduled Monument consent on behalf of the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. It also administers the Secretary of State’s licensing functions in relation to access to designated wrecks (Section 1 Protection of Wrecks Act 1973).

Historic England is a Non-Departmental Public Body sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). It works in partnership with central government departments, local authorities, voluntary bodies and the private sector.

Historic England is the lead body for the heritage sector and the government’s principal adviser for the historic environment in England (please refer to DCMS Heritage Statement 2017).

3. Geographical Extent of Historic England’s Responsibilities

3.1 On land

Historic England’s responsibilities for the historic environment cover the whole of England.

3.2 At sea

Historic England is the national advisory body for cultural heritage within the English inshore marine planning area (i.e. those parts of the UK Territorial Sea under English jurisdiction. Historic England’s specific responsibilities for maritime archaeological derive from the National Heritage Act 2002, which modified strategic functions to include:

  • securing the preservation of monuments in, on or under the seabed; and
  • promoting the public’s enjoyment of, and advancing their knowledge of monuments in, on or under the seabed

The 2002 Act also enabled the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to transfer administrative functions (particularly with regard to licensing access) relating to Section 1 (Historic Wrecks) of the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 to Historic England.

We also provide advice to the MMO as part of the Marine Licensing process (provided for under the 2009 Act). For projects within English marine planning areas (inshore and offshore).

4. The Planning Act 2008

The Planning Act 2008 (2008 Act) established the procedure for applying for, examining and determining applications for development consent for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs).

The grant of development consent removes the need for certain separate consents, including those under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 and Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. However, consents under Section 1 that are necessary under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 are to be referred to the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport and those under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 are to be referred to the Ministry of Defence.

5. Historic England’s roles under the 2008 Act

Given their scale, most onshore projects within the scope of the NSIP regime could have some impact on the historic environment.

Historic England is a statutory consultee on all proposed applications for NSIPs. The roles of Historic England during the various stages under the 2008 Act are set out in more detail below.

6. Historic England’s role as a consultee

The pre-application stage under the 2008 Act allows an applicant to identify relevant issues, consult on, publicise and refine their Proposed Development and hopefully resolve any outstanding issues before an application is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.

Historic England must be consulted on any proposed applications for development consent likely to affect land in England (Section 42 of the 2008 Act).

For proposed developments that are likely to have cross-border implications with other Devolved Administrations, early consultation with Historic England is important.

The following points are highlighted as desirable regarding liaison with Historic England during pre-application:

  • an early meeting to understand the proposed location and design of the proposed development;
  • an invitation to participate through any Evidence Plan Process (EPP) organised by the applicant;
  •  timetable for the proposed application including EIA Scoping Report consultation;
  • the appointment by an applicant of a professional, experienced and accredited archaeological consultant and/or contractor to conduct analysis of survey data (geophysical and geotechnical) and to produce a desk-based historic environment assessment;
  • involvement through any Expert Technical Group established by the applicant to review production of the Preliminary Environmental Information Report; and
  • clarity about changes that are intended to be introduced post-Preliminary Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) consultation and prior to submission of a DCO application to the Planning Inspectorate.

Applicants are statutorily required to formally consult bodies such as Historic England at the pre-application stage on the PEIR. Applicants must give not less than 28 days in which to respond to such consultation (Section 45 of the 2008 Act); applicants are then required to have regard to any ‘relevant response’ that consultees may make before the deadline (Section 49 of the 2008 Act). Applicants are not bound to take account of any responses received after the deadline has passed.

Once an application has been accepted by the Secretary of State, Historic England is automatically a ‘statutory party’ (s.88(3A) 2008 Act and Regulation 3 of The Infrastructure Planning (Interested Parties) Regulations 2010 as amended). As such it will be invited by the Examining Authority to the preliminary meeting, and if Historic England wishes it is able to become an interested party, and thus participate in the examination process.

Historic England should be notified by the applicant when it is possible to register as an ‘interested party (under Section 88(3A) of the 2008 Act and Regulation 3 of The Infrastructure Planning (Interested Parties and Miscellaneous Prescribed Provisions) Regulations 2015) by submitting a ‘Relevant Representation’ to the Planning Inspectorate by the deadline. It is also possible to register as an ‘interested party’ by writing to the Examining Authority following the preliminary meeting.

Sufficiently early consultation of Historic England by applicants during the pre- application stage should minimise the risk of additional information being required once an application has been made to the Planning Inspectorate, which could otherwise result in delays during the examination of the application. All relevant issues should if possible have been resolved at the pre-application stage.

Advice for NSIPs may require a multidisciplinary response from Historic England as well as coordination between local offices. Therefore, in consideration of ensuring all requests for our advice are treated fairly, applicants should request reasonable deadlines for advice, where statutory deadlines are not imposed. It is also helpful, for all concerned, for pre-application discussions to have minutes produced and agreed by all parties.

The following is recommended to support liaison with Historic England:

  • Applicants should invite Historic England to participate in pre-application liaison through the EPP. This should outline how and when they will be approaching Historic England including involvement through any Expert Technical Groups (ETGs); and
  • Applicants can and should consider establishing an Enhanced Advisory Service agreement with Historic England to access our paid-for services which are designed to support our involvement through extended per-application advice. It is therefore recommended that the primary contact for the applicant arranges a meeting with Historic England, as early as possible to discuss the details of the project and to arrange a quote to be supplied.

7. Environmental Impact Assessment

The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017 states that an Environmental Impact Assessment process must identify, describe and assess the direct and indirect significant effects of a proposed project on factors inclusive of “material assets, cultural heritage and the landscape”.

Historic England will be consulted before the Secretary of State adopts an EIA Scoping Opinion for all proposed NSIP applications in England (including any marine area subject to English jurisdiction). See Planning Inspectorate Advice Note 3 for further details.

Following the issuing of the EIA Scoping Opinion, Historic England should continue to be consulted throughout the pre-application process building up to consultation on the PEIR (see Section 42 of the 2008 Act) including any supporting documents such as a draft outline archaeological written scheme of investigation (terrestrial or marine) and any draft Development Consent Order (including any draft Deemed Marine Licences).

8. Further advice and guidance

We appreciate that NSIP applicants will be keen to establish early contact to explain proposed development projects and to include Historic England within any pre-application EPP. The following information regards our paid-for services, as relevant to extended pre-application advice for national infrastructure projects:

The above weblink will also provide contact details for local Historic England offices.

To access our Charter for Advisory Services.

Historic England has produced a series of Advisory Notes.

Historic England guidance on a variety of issues relating to the protection and management of the historic environment which can be accessed here:

Other sources of guidance include:
The Crown Estate (2021) Archaeological Written Schemes of Investigation for offshore wind farm projects.

The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists’ Standard and guidance for archaeological field evaluation (2014) which covers Briefs, Written Schemes of Investigation and Project Designs.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Heritage Statement 2017.

8.1 Historic England Contact Details

Involvement with individual NSIPs will be handled through the appropriate local office of Historic England or the Historic England Marine Planning Unit for offshore projects. Enquiries to the Marine Planning Unit should be sent to:

Details of the local offices

The identification of the lead officer for a project will be taken on a case by case basis, depending on the nature and location of the proposal including identification of a lead local office when proposals cross geographical office boundaries.

Historic England’s engagement with the Planning Inspectorate for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects is supported through our central National Strategy Team.

Enquiries can be made here: