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Heritage, environment and design

Our district includes a wide range of places, landscapes, habitats and wildlife which are locally distinctive and of historical, environmental and cultural importance. Many have a statutory or local designation, or official recognition of their value, which needs special consideration in planning terms. These planning constraints, local planning policy and guidance on heritage and environment issues are all important when considering proposed new development in our area. 

Examples of local designations and constraints include the following:

  • World Heritage Site (City of Bath)
  • Listed buildings
  • Conservation areas
  • Sites of Special Scientific Importance (SSSI)
  • AONB (Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty): the Cotswolds and the Mendips

Understanding policy mapping

Planning policies and constraints apply to particular areas, so you will need to check our policy maps to be sure which ones apply to your particular location. Our mapping tools cover over fifty different planning policies. For ease of use, you can select the topic you are interested in by policy area. If you're unsure where to find the correct map, view our checklist to take you straight to the topic area or individual policy that you need.

View planning policies and constraints on a map

To find out more, select a policy or guidance document from the lists below. Or go to our Supplementary Planning Documents and guidance index, to view and search the full range of local policy and guidance documents. 


We have a variety of policy and guidance on energy efficiency and sustainable building techniques, both for major new developments, and for the retrofitting of energy saving measures to existing buildings, including listed buildings.

You can view mapping for all of our planning policies on sustainable transport on our interactive policy mapping tool.

Emerging policy

You can read about national and local policy around the ecological impact of new development on our Biodiversity Net Gain page.

To find out more about how we are working on sustainability in our area, you can also go to our Climate Emergency pages


These documents deal with how we record and protect the built heritage in our region. To view information on conservation areas, please look at the next section below.


Bath is internationally famous for its culture and built heritage, thermal springs and landscape. In recognition of this, it has World Heritage Site and conservation area status, and many listed and unlisted buildings of historic interest. Planning policy and guidance aims to protect the unique and special qualities of the city, while allowing it to develop to serve the needs of its current and future population.

You can view policy mapping for the Bath World Heritage Site on our interactive mapping tool. For more information about the character and historic importance of Bath, visit our World Heritage Site pages.

Listed buildings

Bath and North East Somerset is rich in buildings and sites of major historical interest, and there are more than twice the national average of listed buildings in our area. Learn more about searching the National Heritage List, the regulations around listing and development, and how to get expert help with heritage queries on our Listed buildings page. 

Local listing

Local listing recognises buildings, structures and sites which are of heritage importance, although they do not have national listed building status. Learn more about local listing and view our draft Local List of Heritage Assets draft SPD.


Bath and North East Somerset has a number of archaeological sites, monuments and historic landscapes covering all periods of human activity, from the earliest prehistoric times to the present day.

To view scheduled monuments on a map and explore related regulations, visit our scheduled monuments page. 

For specialist information on our local area, view the following supplementary planning documents:

Historic Environment Record

The Historic Environment Record (HER) is a register of archaeological sites and the built historic environment. Today, the HER records human activity from the Palaeolithic era to the 20th century, and it is a comprehensive and continually updating resource for commercial, academic, and public research.

You can consult the national HER online via the Heritage Gateway website, or consult the BANES HER, managed by the South West Heritage Trust. You can use keywords or an HER record number to find sites.

You can view mapping for local policies related to the historic environment on our interactive mapping tool.

Conservation areas

A conservation area is an area of special historic and architectural interest; preserving or enhancing the character and appearance of these areas is an important part of our planning policy. Use the pages below to check if you live in one of our 35 conservation areas, to learn more about the impact this may have on planning applications, and to download available character appraisals for a number of our conservation areas.

Landscape, Green Belt and AONB

In planning, landscape can describe man-made or natural environments. In our region, we have some very distinctive urban landscapes, as well as parts of two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), and significant areas of Green Belt land. The landscape is an important part of the setting of listed buildings, conservation areas, and the Bath World Heritage Site. It is therefore an important consideration in planning decisions.

You can view mapping for local policies related to landscape and the environment on our interactive mapping tool.

Ecology and protected species

Our area includes a large number of designated sites, specially protected habitats and species. You can view all mapping for policies related to landscape and the environment, including designated sites, on our interactive mapping tool.

If your proposed development may affect wildlife or its habitat, you may have to get an expert report. You can learn more about ecological assessment by visiting the Biodiversity in Planning website or viewing their video on the Planning Portal.

For information on when you will have to submit an ecological survey or assessment with your planning application, see our documents on Biodiversity and geological conservation

Emerging policy

You can read about national and local policy around the ecological impact of new development on our Biodiversity Net Gain page.

Trees and hedgerows

As a planning authority, we recognise the environmental and social value of trees and hedgerows. They are an important element of planning policy, particularly in conservation areas.

There are national regulations for hedgerow protection. To apply to remove a hedge, you will need to follow the standard planning permission application process on the Planning Portal

View our page on trees and planning to learn more about how trees may affect your development plans, or go directly to our policy mapping tool, to see if a Tree Preservation Order is in place in your location.


We are working strategically with neighbouring local authorities to support great design in local development. To optimise the design of your proposal, we recommend submitting it to the Design West panel of experts. You can read more about how to do this on our design review page.