World heritage site

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© Historic England 2023. Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2023. The Historic England GIS Data contained in this material was obtained on [date]. The most publicly available up to date Historic England GIS Data can be obtained from


World heritage sites are sites, places, monuments or buildings of "outstanding universal value" to all humanity - today and in future generations. They are afforded legal protection by an international convention administered by UNESCO for having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance.  All UK world heritage sites have a management plan.

Designation of a world heritage site by UNESCO brings no additional statutory controls, but protection is afforded through the planning system as well as through the other designations (listed buildings, scheduled monuments etc) that cover elements, if not the whole, of the site. The NPPF defines a world heritage site as a designated heritage asset. Accordingly, great weight should be given to its conservation and substantial harm to a world heritage sites significance (the heritage aspects of its "outstanding universal value") or total loss of the site should be wholly exceptional (para 194).  

World heritage sites are designated by UNESCO who hold the definitive list of world heritage sites.\ Guidance on the protection and management of England's world heritage sites is provided by Historic England.

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