Heritage properties: prepare a heritage management plan

Find out what you should include in a heritage management plan, who to consult and the approval process for conditionally exempt properties.

Conditional exemption from Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax

You can apply to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for conditional exemption if you have an Inheritance Tax or Capital Gains Tax charge on:

  • land of outstanding scenic, historic or scientific interest
  • buildings of outstanding historic or architectural interest

Assessors who deem a building or land as outstanding are likely to consider:

  • land of outstanding scenic interest as having qualities well in excess of land of its general type (based on national rather than local standards)
  • land of scientific interest as having special flora, wildlife, geological or physiological features
  • land of historic interest as having special historical interest in national terms, such as being associated with a nationally important historical event or a registered landscape, park, garden or demesne (grade 1 or 2* or outstanding as appropriate)
  • a building of outstanding historic or architectural interest is likely to be a listed building (grade 1 or 2* or A as appropriate) or a scheduled monument

If you have a building of outstanding historic or architectural interest you can also get conditional exemption for:

  • land essential for the protection of the buildings (amenity land)
  • objects historically associated with the building

An advisory agency will assess your land or buildings and advise HMRC whether your property is outstanding. The agencies will also advise you and HMRC on what you need to do to maintain and preserve your property and to provide reasonable public access. HMRC will then decide whether or not to designate your property.

To get and keep the conditional exemption you’ll need to show HMRC how you’ll maintain and preserve the property and give reasonable public access. These conditions will usually be set out in a heritage management plan (HMP).

If you don’t keep the terms of the conditional exemption set by HMRC then you may have to pay the Inheritance Tax or Capital Gains Tax charge. For more information see the HMRC guide to conditional exemption.

Maintenance funds

You can transfer assets to a maintenance fund free of Capital Gains or Inheritance Tax to financially support the kind of property eligible for conditional exemption. You’ll need to give an undertaking to HMRC - further details are in the HMRC guide to conditional exemption.

Heritage management plans and conditional exemption

An HMP sets out how you will maintain your heritage property and keep your conditional exemption. You may not need an HMP if your heritage property is small and easy to manage or if you already have a good management plan. However you’ll find an HMP useful if your property is large and has several different heritage features.

HMRC and its advisory agencies also use the HMP when they check you’re following the conditions of exemption for maintaining your heritage property and giving reasonable public access.

What to include in your heritage management plan

You may already have a management plan for some aspects of your property but an HMP that’s written specifically for conditional exemption shows how you will:

  • maintain and preserve the heritage property in the condition that helped it to be granted heritage status
  • provide and maintain reasonable public access

Your HMP needs to include:

  • what’s significant about the heritage property (such as historic buildings, archaeology, designed landscapes and the wider historic environment)
  • how the public will access it
  • how you will maintain and preserve the heritage property, taking into account its significance and circumstances
  • when you will be able to carry out the work set out in your plan

Your HMP should cover short-term (1 to 5 years), medium-term (10 years) and long-term (25 years) plans on how the heritage property will be maintained.

For medium and long-term plans you only need to outline how you’ll schedule repair and other works to maintain and preserve the heritage property. This is in addition to regular maintenance work.

You don’t need to preserve the heritage property as a museum piece but any maintenance does need to protect its heritage significance. You must think carefully about any proposals for sudden or fundamental changes such as:

  • changes in land use, including new development and demolitions
  • changes in vegetation cover and management
  • conservation techniques
  • repair materials

For land of outstanding scenic, historic and scientific interest and outstanding buildings you should include:

  • a map of at least 1:10,000 scale showing your property’s boundaries and access
  • a survey that will act as a benchmark from when exemption is granted
  • any management priorities and potential issues, including anything that needs early attention
  • a general summary of the property covering its history and significant features essential for the conditional exemption
  • your works programmes and how you’ll monitor progress
  • how any tenants fit into the plan
  • new and existing access for the public and how you’ll manage it
  • how you’ll:
    • consult others on changes to the heritage property
    • review the heritage management plan
    • let agencies inspect the site
    • maintain these features and your general approach to management

You should also include:

  • for land of outstanding scenic, historic or scientific interest - how you will maintain the land and preserve its character
  • for buildings of outstanding historic or architectural interest – how you will maintain, repair and preserve the buildings, amenity land and historically associated objects.

More detailed information about what to include in your HMP is given in the booklets on heritage management plans and conditional exemption.

How much preparing a heritage management plan costs

Preparing an HMP usually costs around £6,000 to £12,000, but it depends on how large your estate is and how complex its issues are – it can be less for a small or simple property.

Natural England heritage management plan grants

Natural England offers grants covering up to 50% of the eligible cost of preparing an HMP for land of outstanding scenic, historic or scientific interest in England. You must cover the remaining costs yourself.

Grants run from 1 April to 31 March each year and there is only a small annual budget. You’ll have the best chance of success by applying at the start of the grant year as grants are only offered until the budget is used up.

It’s likely that you’ll need to hire consultants and carry out specialist surveys, such as archaeological and invertebrate surveys. If you have the right skills you can write your HMP yourself, but you must complete it within a timescale agreed with HMRC.

Getting help preparing your heritage management plan

The relevant advisory agencies provide advice to help you or your consultant write an HMP.

Land of outstanding scenic, historic or scientific interest

Buildings of outstanding interest, amenity land and historically associated objects

Getting your heritage management plan approved

You must get comments on your draft HMP from the correct advisory agencies and then ask the agencies to approve the HMP before you send it to HMRC. The agencies usually need 6 weeks to comment.

Using other funding with conditional exemption

Your HMP sets out what you need to do to keep your conditional exemption. It can also say what you would like to do to enhance management, but you won’t have to complete these voluntary steps to keep your conditional exemption.

The HMP can help you apply for government or European funding for this sort of additional work (which is known as enhancement). You can’t apply for government or European funding to pay for the maintenance work that HMRC requires you to do as a condition of exemption.

Find out more in the guidance on:

Get more guidance on heritage management plans

Read HMRC’s guidance on conditional exemption for detailed advice on the rules of conditional exemption. You can also contact people in the relevant advisory agencies for further help.

Historic England offers further advice on outstanding buildings, amenity land and historically associated objects. Specific advice about preparing a management plan for historically associated objects is available in the guide to drawing up a collections management plan

Owner representative associations such as the Historic Houses Association, or the Country Land and Business Association can also help with general advice and useful contacts.

Read the Natural England in-depth guides on conditional exemption and heritage management plans for further guidance and an example of a heritage management plan.

Published 2 October 2014