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Title: The value and meaning of significance in the planning system for the protection of historic parks and gardens in England
Author: Thomson, Victoria Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 5366 8055
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2014
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In England, parks and gardens are an acknowledged part of the historic environment, for which the principal protection mechanism is the planning system. Since 2010, that protection has relied primarily on the application of a policy predicated on the identification and conservation of a historic asset’s ‘significance’, or special interest. This research evaluates the concept of significance as a basis for protecting historic parks and gardens in England, and assesses the effectiveness of the planning system in sustaining that significance. It adopts a case study approach to investigate the handling of a planning application for a development proposal in each of three registered parks and gardens, involving site assessments, documentary review, and semi-structured interviews. This is supplemented by a nationwide questionnaire survey of local planning authorities, interviews with high-level stakeholders, and analysis of relevant policy and legislation. The research finds that significance-based policy is not well understood, and that its potential is unfulfilled in practice. Parks and gardens themselves are found to be relatively neglected as heritage assets in both conservation and research. The research concludes that the planning system could be effective in sustaining the significance of historic parks and gardens, but currently is not. The contributions to knowledge made by the research include the review of planning practice in respect of parks and gardens (the first since 1992), the development of a typology of interests to inform the definition of significance, and a model to guide the process of definition. A further contribution – with the potential for wider application – is a theoretical model of the influences on the construction of significance in the decision-making process on planning applications. Recommendations arising from the research include a call for improved use of existing protection mechanisms, and for the production of guidance for practitioners to support this.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available