Planning in the Site
This page has been created with the aim of enhancing protection of the World Heritage Site by assisting those wishing to undertake planning developments within its boundaries or setting.
Below you will find information about the World Heritage Site (WHS, or Site), why it is important, and what obligations apply to the planning applicant or developer when submitting an application or pursuing pre-application advice.
In the first instance a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section is provided (below), which sets out common issues that are raised in connection with the WHS, along with a 'Useful links' section signposting additional information.
Cornwall Council, Devon County Council and West Devon Borough Council have jointly adopted the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site Supplementary Planning Document [SPD], which is available to read here.
The WHS has a Planning Advice function, please email:
The World Heritage Site Office also provides a pre-application consultation service for planning schemes which are deemed to be major developments. To find out more, please see the PDF information sheet here or contact:
Planning application assessment and planning guidance relating to the World Heritage Site
There are three Local Planning Authorities who are responsible for planning applications within the WHS; Cornwall Council, West Devon Borough Council and Devon County Council. It is these organisations that create the planning policies that apply to the WHS, and also determine planning permissions within it. If you have any concerns or questions regarding planning policy or a planning application, you should contact your Local Planning Authority for advice and guidance: Cornwall Council, West Devon Borough Council and Devon County Council.
On 6 March 2014 the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) launched its planning practice guidance web-based resource. This guidance is now available entirely online via the following link:
This guidance is intended to provide important information for any user of the planning system. The online guidance enables you to link easily between the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and relevant planning practice guidance, as well as between different categories of guidance. This guidance is periodically updated to ensure it remains an up-to-date planning resource.
Information on the status of World Heritage Sites and the planning considerations and policies that apply to them can be found under the National Planning Policy Framework, section 12 'Conserving and enhancing the historic environment' and the Planning Practice Guidance section on designated heritage assets and its further guidance on World Heritage Sites which can be found via the following link:
Recognised by UNESCO, World Heritage Sites are places of significance and value to the whole of humanity. In terms of importance, this places the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site on a par with international treasures such as the Pyramids, Stonehenge and the Great Wall of China.
Cornwall and West Devon’s mining landscape, shaped during a period of intense industrial activity, is testimony to one of the greatest periods of economic, technological and social development Britain has ever known.
From 1700 to 1914, the metal mining industry played a vital role in transforming our way of life. It provided essential raw materials to feed the Industrial Revolution in Britain, and pioneered technological developments that helped shape the society we live in today. For example, Richard Trevithick’s advances in steam engine technology – originally motivated by the need to pump water out of mines – ultimately enabled the development of steam trains, changing the world forever through the mass movement of people and goods.
This and other new engineering solutions and inventions developed here were exported to mining regions across the world – including Australia, the Americas and South Africa – playing a key role in the growth of an international capitalist economy. There are at least 175 places, across six continents, where Cornish mine workers took their skills, technology and traditions; a truly global heritage.
The World Heritage Site Office is a non-statutory consultee with regard to planning policies and decisions and it influences the planning process in the following ways:
Assistance in preparing Local Development Frameworks with Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) including district wide strategy and planning policy development.
Prepares the Management Plan for the WHS, which sets out a range of planning related policies that Local Planning Authorities will consider when determining a planning application in the WHS or its setting - the surroundings in which a place is experienced, its local context, that will include present and past relationships to the adjacent landscape.
Provides specialist advice to LPAs on individual planning applications within the WHS and its setting
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee inscribes World Heritage Properties onto its World Heritage List for their Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) – cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity.
World Heritage Sites are defined as 'designated heritage assets' in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
In addition, relevant policies within the adopted WHS Management Plan, though it is not a part of the formal planning system, need to be taken into account by local planning authorities in developing their strategy for the historic or natural environment (as appropriate) and in determining relevant planning applications.
An online version of the World Heritage Site Management Plan (2013-2018) can be found here.
World Heritage Sites are inscribed for their Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). The WHS has seven defined physical 'Attributes' across ten separate landscape Areas (A1-A10), that together express its OUV. The seven Attribute types are as set out below, with examples;
- Mine sites, including ore dressing sites (e.g. East Pool Mine, Pool - Area A5)
Mining (extraction) and ore dressing (processing) sites are the most obvious features within the historic mining landscape and are often accompanied by one or more of the iconic Cornish type engine houses. The Taylor’s Shaft pumping engine at East Pool Mine (below), is somewhat unusual in being located within an urban setting but illustrates well the close contextual relationship which existed between mine and community.
- Mine transport infrastructure (e.g. Liskeard & Caradon Railway - Area A9)
Transportation infrastructure was essential to convey imported coal, supplies and mineral ores to and from the mines. Many ports, harbours, mineral tramroads and railways were constructed in Cornwall and West Devon for this purpose. Former tramroads and railways are often easily overlooked in the landscape due to their narrow linear nature and the absence of rails or related features. This section of the Liskeard & Caradon Railway at Pontus Peace (Ponton’s Piece) near Minions, is distinctive in retaining the original granite setts, or bed-stones, which supported the iron rails.
- Ancillary industries (e.g. Harveys Foundry, Hayle - Area A2)
The growth of mining in Cornwall and Devon fostered the creation of many industries ancillary to mining such as iron foundries and engineering works, gunpowder factories and tin smelters. Harveys Foundry in Hayle was the preeminent Cornish engineering works in the nineteenth century and at one time constructed the largest steam pumping engines ever made.
- Mining settlements and social infrastructure (e.g. Camborne - Area A5)
The employment opportunities offered by large scale development in the mining industry led to a rapid population growth and the emergence of new settlement patterns. Housing was built within existing market towns and villages and also within new settlements in the various mining districts.
- Mineworkers’ smallholdings (e.g. at St Agnes - Area A7)
Mineworkers’ smallholdings developed in the mining districts as a response to an increasing demand for land to rear animals and tend crops. These smallholdings, usually no larger than two hectares (five acres), consisted principally of self-built cottages on holdings leased from the landowner. This ‘pig and potato’ subsistence husbandry brought an important degree of self-sufficiency to the mineworker.
- Great Houses, estates and gardens (e.g. Cotehele, St Dominick - Area A10)
Mining wealth was used by influential landowners and shareholders (adventurers) to establish grand estates and gardens, many using specially imported plant species new to Britain.
- Mineralogical and other related sites of particular scientific importance (e.g. Cligga Head, near Perranporth - Area A7)
Mineralogy, geology, and the practical application of these sciences to the mineral processing industries, were studied extensively in Cornwall and Devon in the nineteenth century. Key mineralogical sites within the WHS include the discovery sites of new species, the sources of world-class specimens, and important mineralogical exposures.
When considering development that might affect the OUV of the WHS, it is necessary to submit sufficient information to enable an assessment of potential impacts. This is done through a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) and sometimes forms part of Landscape Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA).
As a starting point it is important to consider what Attributes might be affected by your development either on site or in the wider area. Is information available about Attributes of OUV through historical and archaeological information, and what might the impacts be?
It is important to consider the impacts of the development in the context of not only the visual impact, but also in terms of the character of the settlement or landscape, the disruption to sites that are connected either physically or visually and also what improvements and compensatory benefits might help to lessen the impacts or better reveal features of the WHS.
The adopted World Heritage Site Management Plan (2013-2018) and its appendices provide a more detailed explanation as how development can impact upon the WHS and its setting and describe the extent of the Site and its key features. The Management Plan also contains policies and strategic actions for the Site.
In addition to the Management Plan there is the WHS Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) that aims to unpick what makes the WHS important and provides advice on how the WHS should be taken into consideration in terms of the planning/development process.
The World Heritage Site Office also now provides a pre-application consultation service for planning schemes which are deemed to be major developments. For further details of this service please see the PDF information sheet here.
The World Heritage Site Office as a non-statutory consultee reviews a vast number of applications ranging from householder applications to major development schemes and provides comments to Cornwall Council as the Local Planning Authority (LPA) as necessary. Where we have submitted comments, these can be viewed under the 'consultee comments' section when searching the online planning register for a specific application on Cornwall Council’s website. West Devon Borough Council and Devon County Council monitor and comment on WHS related planning issues within the West Devon part of the Site.
Your first point of contact should be the relevant LPA (Cornwall Council, West Devon Borough Council or Devon County Council). You may be able to see details and plans for the application on their website or otherwise at their offices. You will also be able to find out what other comments have been made about the application.
Some features within the WHS may be Listed Buildings or Scheduled Ancient Monuments (SAMs). As such they are protected from damage and demolition. There are also some restrictions in relation to demolition within Conservation Areas where it would exceed certain criteria. More information on demolition can be found on the Planning Portal via the following link: Demolition
In other instances buildings and features do not benefit from such protections and therefore can be at risk through damage or demolition. Before attempting demolition you should consult with your LPA to ascertain if their prior approval is required.
The Hedgerows Regulations 1997 were made under Section 97 of the Environment Act 1995 and came into operation in England and Wales on 1 June 1997. They provide important protection by prohibiting the removal of most countryside hedgerows (or parts of them) without first notifying the local planning authority (LPA). ’Removal’ includes acts which could result in the destruction of a hedgerow. This is particulalrly relevant in those Areas of the WHS where mineworkers' smalholdings form a distinctive part of the landscape, as these field boundaries are one of the seven key Attributes of that express the OUV of the WHS.
The Cornwall Council Interactive Map is a useful tool for checking whether your property or a site is within the WHS.
The WHS is viewable by switching it on via a checkbox next to 'World Heritage Site Areas' contained within the 'layers' section of the interactive map entitled 'Historical'.
The Search tool enables for searching by postcode, part of an address or a street or place name within Cornwall. The map also covers those parts of the WHS that fall within West Devon although it should be noted that the search tool cannot be used to find specific properties in West Devon.
The map can be zoomed to specific locations and there are links to various sources of information by selecting a layer and then clicking on it as it appears on the map.
National Planning Policy, Circulars and Guidance – Information on the latest national planning consultations, guidance, circulars and legislation produced by the Department for Communities and Local Government can be found on the GOV.UK website
Heritage – Information on historic sites and buildings can be found on the Heritage Gateway website or by contacting the Local Planning Authority.
Planning Portal – A useful resource to link to information about planning such as their guides to permitted development rights for householder extensions.
Planning Aid – This service is offered by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and offers free, impartial planning advice to individuals and communities.
Neighbourhood Planning – Some valuable information on the process of neighbourhood planning, sources of help and funding can be found on the My Community Rights website.
ICOMOS - Guidance on Heritage Impact Assessments for Cultural World Heritage Properties (2011). Provides advice on what should be considered in preparing an assessment of the impacts of a development within a World Heritage Site or in its setting.
To find out more about the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site, please see the World Heritage page here.