The historic landscape assessment for Hampshire accords with some important strands of advice set out in the Government Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) Note 15 (Planning and the Historic Environment 1994). Planning Policy Guidance (PPGs) set out government policy for local authorities and others in a concise and accessible form. PPG15 provides a full statement of government policies for the identification and protection of historic buildings and conservation areas, and other elements of the historic environment. It has for the first time made explicit reference to the historic landscape in the context of planning and is thus of some importance.
PPG15 states that the commitment to sustainable development
"has particular relevance to the preservation of the historic environment, which by its nature is irreplaceable. Yet the historic environment of England is all-pervasive, and it cannot in practice be preserved unchanged. We must ensure that the means are available to identify what is special in the historic environment; to define through the development plan system its capacity to change, and, when proposals for new development come forward , to assess their impact on the historic environment and give it full weight alongside other considerations" (PPG 15, para 1.3)
With reference to "The wider historic landscape", PPG 15 advises
"There is a significant role for local planning authorities. In defining planning policies for the countryside, authorities should take account of the historical dimension of the landscape as a whole rather than concentrate on selected areas. Adequate understanding is an essential preliminary and authorities should assess the wider historic landscape at an early stage in development plan preparation. Plans should protect its most important components and encourage development that is most consistent with maintaining its overall historic character.
"Appraisals [of historic landscape character] based on assessment of the historic character of the whole countryside will be more flexible, and more likely to be integrated with the aims of the planning process, than an attempt to define selected areas for control. (PPG 15, paras 2.26 and 6.40)
PPG 15 (para 2.10) refers to the guidance being prepared by the Government's statutory advisers, and stresses the value of early consultation. This guidance has been published by the Countryside Commission, English Nature and English Heritage (1993 and 1996) in two volumes providing detailed advice to planning authorities, setting out the fundamental approach to sustainable development (Conservation Issues In Strategic Plans and Conservation Issues In Local Plans).
English Heritage has issued a discussion paper on the concept and practice of sustainability for the cultural heritage (English Heritage 1997). A report to the Government's conservation agencies entitled What Matters and Why issued by the Countryside Commission (1997) sets out ideas for further refining approaches to the idea of sustainability to assist its promotion at all levels and for many different policy contexts.