Recent events with regard to the nation’s statues have led to the Government amending Part 11 (heritage and demolition) of Schedule 2 of the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO), to ensure the demolition of a statue, memorial, or monument (“a commemorative structure”) that has been in place for at least 10 years on the date of any proposed demolition, to now require Planning Permission from the 21st April 2021.

Exceptions include those that are Listed or are Scheduled Monuments (where Listed Building or Scheduled Monument Consent would still apply); those within a cemetery or within the curtilage of a place of worship; and those within the curtilage of a dwelling house.  No change has been made with regard to monuments and memorials to a deceased person that were erected before 1st January 1925 within Conservation Areas, where their demolition still requires Planning Permission.

Whilst there is no definition of what comprises a statue, memorial or monument, it evidently has to be ‘commemorative’ in nature.  The aim of the change is to ensure that commemorative structures are not removed without proper consideration and public consultation, and to explore whether retention and explanation of them is an alternative or appropriate approach.  The changes apply to all commemorative structures and not just those that might be deemed contentious.  Some Local Planning Authorities might already have an audit of commemorative structures in their district or borough or have identified them as Non-Designated Heritage Assets (Local Listings).  Such local designation would assist all developers and applicants in their identification at an early stage in developing proposals.  However, many are likely to only be identified during the planning application process, especially on sites such as hospitals, industrial complexes, schools and colleges; military bases and civic sites, where there is a long history of commemorative structures being erected.

Since the introduction of the concept of Non-Designated Heritage Assets (Local Listings) with the publication of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in 2012, everyone working in the development sector has become more accustomed to the idea that heritage in the built environment is not solely restricted to Listed Buildings, Scheduled Monuments or structures in Conservation Areas.  This latest change to permitted development and protection of commemorative structures is now a further element to consider when assessing the suitability of a site for development, and identifying them at the earliest opportunity is advisable.

These changes do not necessarily mean that the statues, memorials or monuments cannot be removed, but the draft consultation version of the NPPF does state that greater regard should be given to the importance of retaining them, however a balanced judgement will still be required.

These changes are within The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development etc.) (England) (Amendment) Order 2021 (statutory Instrument 2021 No. 428). The Statutory Instrument also makes significant changes to the Permitted Development rights for the Change of Use of Class E (commercial, business and services) to Class C3 (residential) – please see our commentary on these changes here.

The heritage team at Pegasus Group have a wealth of experience in identifying heritage assets and understanding statues, memorials and monuments. If you require further advice, please contact Simon Britt MRTPI IHBC our Principal Heritage Consultant on or 07825 861 440.