An English Heritage guidance document ‘Understanding Place: Historic Area Assessments – Principles and Practice was published this month which provides a method of understanding the heritage of an area. All places have a story and identity. Historic cities, towns and villages have a distinctive character, shaped by years of history to the present day.
Undertaking Historic Area Assessments (HAA) is a way of identifying the features that contribute to the historic character of an area, as well as issues that may threaten to change that character such as new developments or redundant and derelict buildings.
Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter has benefited from undertaking an HAA. During the 1990’s the quarter was under increasing development pressures, to convert workshops and factories into apartments. An assessment of the Quarter took place and the quarter emerged as an area of exceptional significance, a unique survival of a historic working industrial quarter operating in the same buildings, using the same processes as it did more than 150 years ago. Some of the outcomes of this assessment included an additional 120 buildings in the quarter being listed and the adoption of planning policies which have helped protect the unique character of the manufacturing industry along with controlled new development on its periphery.
The full version of Understanding Place: Historic Area Assessment – Principles and Practice is available here.