Advice and Support

Historic Environment Policy for Scotland (HEPS)

The historic environment matters us to all. This policy supports good decision making for Scotland's unique places.

Everyone has a place that matters to them - from a natural landscape shaped by human history to a childhood home built in the '70s.

The importance of these places often goes far beyond what can be seen or touched. They resonate with our sense of place, identity and well being.

We collectively have a duty of care for our historic environment.

The Historic Environment Policy for Scotland (HEPS) outlines how we should undertake this duty whenever a decision will affect the historic environment. 

A woman with long red hair and wearing lipstick points at a document held by a man in a brown coat.

What is the Policy?

A policy statement for decision making for the whole of the historic environment. It's used at national and local levels, from funding decisions to applications to wind farms.

Download the Policy

 

There are six policies within the document which define how the historic environment should be managed:

Policies for managing the historic environment
1 Decisions affecting the historic environment should be informed by an inclusive understanding of its breadth and cultural significance.
2 Decisions affecting the historic environment should ensure that its understanding and enjoyment as well as its benefits are secured for present and future generations.
3 Plans, programmes, policies and strategies and the allocation of resources should protect and promote the historic environment. Where detrimental impacts on the historic environment arising from these are identified and unavoidable, steps should be taken to demonstrate that alternatives have been explored and mitigation measures put in place.
4 When considering changes to specific assets and their context, detrimental impacts should be avoided. Where appropriate opportunities for enhancement should be sought. Where detrimental impacts on the historic environment are unavoidable, these should be minimised and steps should be taken to demonstrate that alternatives have been explored and mitigation measures put in place.
5 Decisions affecting the historic environment should contribute to the sustainable development of communities and places.
6 Decisions affecting the historic environment should demonstrate how everyone has had the opportunity to enjoy it, to contribute to our shared knowledge and to influence decision-making.

Policies for Designation and Scheduled Monuments

Alongside HEPS, there are two policies we use when:

  • we designate historic sites and places
  • we make decisions about at scheduled monuments

Discover these policies in more detail.

Designation Policy and Selection Guidance Scheduled Monument Consents Policy
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Managing Change

From guidance on windows to world heritage, we give advice on managing change in the historic environment.

All Managing Change Guidance Notes

Managing change

One of Historic Environment Scotland’s roles is to provide best practice advice for decision makers in applying these policies.

Our series of Managing Change guidance covers a range of topics that affect the historic environment in line with the Scottish Planning Policy, including:

Each Managing Change guidance note looks at a different theme in terms of:

  • the key issues that might arise
  • how best to deal with such issues
  • the reasons behind our advice
All Managing Change Guidance Notes

We have produced case studies exploring how listed buildings can be reused and adapted. These examples of our Managing Change in the Historic Environment guidance put into practice are available to download.

Inclusive decision making

Good decision making is transparent.

It balances current circumstances with long-term aspirations and it's a collective responsibility to for us to all strike that balance.

It is consistent and supports everyone’s participation in decisions that affect the places that are central to our everyday lives.

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What's Your Heritage

We asked the people of Scotland what the historic environment means to them. Alongside consultations with organisations, councils and businesses, the answers shaped the Policy.

Background to the Policy

Learning from the past

We should learn from decisions that affect the historic environment to inform future decisions. We'll monitor this policy until 2029 when it will be reviewed again.

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