The Gardens Trust welcomes the new Levelling Up and Regeneration Act, the biggest milestone in the conservation of historic parks and gardens since the power to create the Register was introduced in 1983.
The Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023, which received Royal Assent on 26th October, introduces a number of planning reforms with two key areas of particular relevance to historic parks and gardens, namely the duty to have ‘special regard’ to the desirability of preserving or enhancing designated heritage assets and the statutory status for Historic Environment Records (HERs).
The new duty of regard means that those who consider granting planning permission for the development of land in England which affects a registered park or garden or its setting, are required to have special regard to preserving or enhancing any feature, quality, characteristic, or setting, that contributes to the park or garden’s special historic interest. This is an important additional layer of protection which should result in improved conservation of historic parks and gardens.
In addition, Historic Environment Records have been made statutory, meaning local authorities have a duty to maintain these records. HERs may contain information about registered parks and gardens and other sites in an area which are considered to be of historic, architectural, archaeological or artistic interest. National planning policy requires that HERs are used to assess the significance of heritage assets and the contribution they make to their environment, and will therefore play a crucial role in informing planning decisions. The important work our County Gardens Trusts do to update HERs locally will therefore continue to help protect and conserve historic parks and gardens for future generations.
Advances in the protection of historic parks and gardens since 1983 have been achieved by collaboration in reviewing the issues and possible solutions, and keeping up the profile of the importance and vulnerability of these heritage assets so that opportunities for change could be seized when they arose.
The Gardens Trust (as the Garden History Society) has played an important role along the way and the Trust is well aware of the need to be prepared to further the protection of historic designed landscapes again in the future.
You can read more about the impact of the new Act and other milestones in the protection of historic parks and gardens in this blog post by our Conservation Committee member Victoria Thomson.