Understanding Place

BookUnderstanding Place

Understanding Place

Historic Area Assessment

Historic England Guidance


April 7th, 2017





This guidance explains how to undertake Historic Area Assessments (HAAs) in order to understand and explain the heritage interest of an area. HAAs help explain the character of a place and define its significance, providing a sound evidence base for the informed management of the historic environment. The approach is intended to assist historic environment specialists, planners, developers, local communities and others in evaluating the historic environment by understanding how the past is encapsulated in today’s landscape, explaining why it has assumed its present form and highlighting its more significant elements.

HAAs typically give insights into how and why a place has come to look the way it does. They identify the range of landscapes and building types, their dates and forms, and relate them to the wider evolution of the area. The Introduction sets out the principles and benefits of assessment and explains how it relates to other approaches to the understanding of historic areas. Sections 2–4 explain the practical issues underlying HAAs and how to carry them out at various levels of resolution.

Author Information

Geraint Franklin is an architectural historian with Historic England.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
1. Introduction
2. Key issues
3. Levels of assessment
4. Fieldwork, research and analysis
5. Bibliography
6. Glossary
7. Acknowledgements