Policy HER 9: Jodrell Bank World Heritage Site

  1. Development proposals within the Jodrell Bank World Heritage Site, its buffer zone or its setting will be supported where they preserve those elements of significance that contribute to Jodrell Bank’s Outstanding Universal Value, including its authenticity and integrity.
  2. Development proposals within the Jodrell Bank World Heritage Site, its Buffer Zone or its setting that would lead to substantial harm to its significance should be wholly exceptional and will only permitted in the circumstances set out in national planning policy. Proposals leading to less substantial harm should be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal. In all cases, the assessment of harm should take into account the relative significance of the element affected and its contribution to the significance of the Word Heritage Site as a whole.
  3. Development proposals affecting the Jodrell Bank World Heritage Site must be accompanied by a heritage statement. Consistent with LPS Policy SE 14 ‘Jodrell Bank’, this should address:
    1. the effect of any development proposal falling within the Observatory’s Buffer Zone on the operational efficiency of the telescopes through radio interference; and
    2. the effect of any development proposal on all other historic attributes of the Observatory, including its setting.

Supporting information

5.34  In recognition of its international, historic, and scientific significance, UNESCO's World Heritage Committee announced its decision to inscribe Jodrell Bank on the World Heritage List in July 2019. This policy addresses the associated need to afford this historic asset appropriate protection, as amongst the most important heritage sites in the world. The Site and its Buffer Zone are defined by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee's inscription and are shown on the adopted policies map.

5.35  The inscription of a site onto the World Heritage List is accompanied by a statement of outstanding universal value (SOUV) which contains key references for their effective protection and management. The SOUV for Jodrell Bank Observatory recognises its importance in the pioneering phase and later evolution of radio astronomy. It reflects scientific and technical achievements and interchanges related to the development of entirely new fields of scientific research which led to a revolutionary understanding of the nature and scale of the Universe. The site has evidence of every stage of the history of radio astronomy, from its emergence as a new science to the present day. Vitally, the property retains its ongoing scientific use. The property retains all attributes that document its development as a site of pioneering astronomical research. The location of the property has continued unchanged, and the largely agricultural setting is essentially identical apart from the construction of the Square Kilometre Array building, the headquarters of an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope.

5.36  The Buffer Zone identifies the area surrounding the Observatory in which development is most likely to harm its scientific capabilities through radio interference. The Buffer Zone’s heritage significance arises from its purpose to protect the continued scientific operation of the Observatory’s telescopes which is central to its Outstanding Universal Value, and therefore the heritage significance of the World Heritage Site. The Buffer Zone is based on the Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope Consultation Zone, which has operated effectively to protect the Observatory for many decades from development that would harm its operational efficiency through radio interference. The Consultation Zone was established by the Town and Country Planning (Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope) Direction 1973 and triggers a requirement for the council to notify the Observatory (University of Manchester) when planning applications are submitted for certain categories of development within it.

5.37  As well as the critical need to protect the Observatory’s ongoing scientific capabilities, development proposals must also consider any other heritage impacts they may have on the Observatory. This will include any impact on its immediate or wider landscape setting. Most of its attributes have been listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, with the two major telescopes listed in the highest category, Grade 1.

5.38  These separate ‘tests’ are reflected in Criterion 1 of LPS Policy SE 14 and Criterion 3 of Policy HER 9, and together form the basis of assessing whether a proposal will harm the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site. They require careful attention to be given to proposals that may affect the efficiency of the telescopes, the site itself and the setting of the site. Further policy guidance on these matters and how they should be considered in determining applications will be provided through a supplementary planning document.

5.39  The level of detail in any heritage statement should be proportionate to an asset’s importance which, in the case of the Observatory, is the highest afforded. However, levels of information needed will vary depending on the nature of the proposal and its location. The information required in the heritage statement should be no more than is necessary to understand the potential impact of the proposal on the significance of the site.

5.40  Within the Buffer Zone, outline planning applications may not be accepted where they do not provide sufficient information to enable the impact of a development proposal on the efficiency of the telescopes to be properly assessed.

Related documents 

Policy information


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