Policy SE 7: The Historic Environment

  1. Cheshire East has an extensive and varied built heritage and historic environment, described in the justification text to this policy. The character, quality and diversity of the historic environment will be conserved and enhanced. All new development should seek to avoid harm to heritage assets and make a positive contribution to the character of Cheshire East's historic and built environment, including the setting of assets and where appropriate, the wider historic environment.
  2. Proposals for development shall be assessed and the historic built environment actively managed in order to contribute to the significance of heritage assets and local distinctiveness. Where a development proposal is likely to affect a designated heritage asset (including its setting) the significance of the heritage asset, including any contribution made by its setting, must be described and reported as part of the application.
  3. The council will support development proposals that do not cause harm to, or which better reveal the significance of heritage assets and will seek to avoid or minimise conflict between the conservation of a heritage asset and any aspect of a development proposal by:
    1. Designated Heritage Assets:
      1. Requiring development proposals that cause harm to, or loss of, a designated heritage asset and its significance, including its setting, to provide a clear and convincing justification as to why that harm is considered acceptable. Where that case cannot be demonstrated, proposals will not be supported.
      2. Considering the level of harm in relation to the public benefits that may be gained by the proposal.
      3. The use of appropriate legal agreements or planning obligations to secure the benefits arising from a development proposal where the loss, in whole or in part, of a heritage asset is accepted.
    2. Non-Designated Assets:
      1. Requiring that the impact of a proposal on the significance of a non-designated heritage asset should be properly considered, as these are often equally valued by local communities. There should be a balanced consideration, weighing the direct and indirect impacts upon the asset and its setting, having regard to the scale of any harm or loss. The presumption should be that heritage assets should be retained and re-used wherever practicable and proposals that cannot demonstrate that the harm will be outweighed by the benefits of the development shall not be supported. Where loss or harm is outweighed by the benefits of development, appropriate mitigation and compensation measures will be required to ensure that there is no net loss of heritage value
  4. For all heritage assets, high quality design should be achieved. It should aim to avoid poorly executed pastiche design solutions and should foster innovation and creativity that is sensitive and enhances the significance of heritage assets in terms of architectural design, detailing, scale, massing and use of materials.
  5. Cheshire East Council will seek to positively manage the historic built environment through engagement with landowners/asset owners and other organisations and by working with communities to ensure that heritage assets are protected, have appropriate viable uses, are maintained to a high standard and are secured and have a sustainable future for the benefit of future generations. Proposals that conserve and enhance assets on the Heritage at Risk register will be encouraged.


13.62 The National Planning Policy Framework states that "local planning authorities should set out in their Local Plan a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment, including heritage assets most at risk through neglect, decay or other threats. In doing so, they should recognise that heritage assets are an irreplaceable resource and conserve them in a manner appropriate to their significance".

13.63 Cheshire East contains a much valued, varied and unique built heritage. This is a key contributor to the quality of life and economic attractiveness of the borough and has a positive and important role to play in achieving a sustainable community in Cheshire East. The council will expect new developments to respect and promote the distinctive local heritage of the area, including the historic silk industry in Macclesfield, the importance of the rail industry in Crewe and the distinctive qualities of towns and villages across the borough.

13.64 Key assets include Macclesfield's silk and industrial heritage, Little Moreton Hall, Crewe's railway heritage, Tatton Park, Lyme Park, Quarry Bank Mill, Tegg's Nose Country Park, the canal network, historic towns and parts of the Peak District National Park, amongst others. Specific unique attractions include a wealth of historic parks and gardens and the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank. The area's stately homes and historic parks and gardens are a particular feature of Cheshire East and pose particular challenges as well as opportunities. There are 76 conservation areas and 2,638 listed buildings including 47 grade 1 and 179 grade 2* listed buildings.

13.65 There is also a wealth of locally important heritage assets that are not formally designated, but which are equally valued and cherished by local communities, ranging from smaller assets such as boundary markers and railings, to larger buildings and structures, and historic landscapes, veteran trees and ancient woodlands. Much of this local heritage remains unrecorded and therefore it is essential that the impact of proposals upon these non-designated assets is also properly considered in assessing development proposals. The council is, therefore, committed to protecting buildings structures, townscape features of particular local interest and value, and cherished landmarks, which are not statutorily designated, including historic parklands.

13.66 The borough also has a rich archaeological resource ranging from the prehistoric period to the Second World War, including sites such as the Bridestones Neolithic chambered tomb, the Roman and medieval saltworking remains of Middlewich, the Roman and waterlogged deposits of Nantwich the Saxon Sandbach Crosses, the site of the Civil War Battle of Nantwich and the defences of the former airfield at Cranage. It also has a diverse historic landscape character, ranging from medieval field systems to 20th Century fieldscapes.

13.67 In order to properly understand the nature, significance and physical extent of assets of archaeological interest, programmes of mitigation in the form of desk-based assessment, field evaluation, recording of the asset, minimising the impact through design modification, may be required. Retaining as much as possible of the character of surviving historic landscapes can enhance the local distinctiveness and attractiveness of new development.

13.68 Designated heritage assets are those that are recognised as having national heritage significance and/or benefiting from statutory protection and comprise:

13.69 Non-designated heritage assets are locally important heritage assets which often have a strong local affinity or association and comprise:

13.70 Securing high quality design is very important to conserving, enhancing and enriching the unique heritage and local identity of the borough. With respect to setting, and wider context, new developments should respect the local character, massing, and scale of the area.

13.71 Design innovation will be positively encouraged to create architecture that is clearly of today and the heritage of tomorrow, but which also marries with and responds to the wider historic context. Whilst poor quality, ill considered pastiche design will be discouraged, architecture that focuses on local traditions, character and craftsmanship will also be supported and encouraged. For both contemporary and traditional design solutions, a focus on achieving quality, sense of place and local distinctiveness will be essential in order to be supported in heritage sensitive contexts.

13.72 Cheshire East Council has a range of responsibilities and statutory powers to positively manage the historic environment. In order to safeguard and maximise the gain from the borough’s heritage assets, the council will seek to use these measures appropriately and responsibly for the public benefit in order to conserve and enhance the borough’s historic environment. An increasingly important issue for the historic environment is the harm arising from heritage crime. As part of the management of the historic environment, the council will seek to work with local communities and other partners to deliver the heritage crime programme in Cheshire East.

13.73 Monitoring and reviewing the status and condition of important heritage assets will be an important activity, particularly where there are known development pressures and/or they are assets being at risk, in particular on the Heritage at Risk Register.

13.74 Further guidance on information that is required to be submitted with planning applications that affect the historic environment will be set out in the Site Allocations and Development Policies Document.

Key Evidence

  1. Conservation Area Appraisals developed for conservation areas across Cheshire East
  2. Cheshire Historic Landscape Characterisation Assessment (2008)
  3. Cheshire Historic Towns Survey (1997 - 2002)
  4. Cheshire East Local List of Historic Buildings
  5. The Cheshire Historic Environment Record (contains sites of archaeological importance)
  6. Nantwich Waterlogged Deposits Report No 3 Management Strategy: Supplementary Planning Document for the Historic Environment and Archaeological Deposits: Area of Special Archaeological Potential (Revised June 2016) 

Policy information


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