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Examining English planning as a barrier to the thermal improvement of conservation properties



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Friedman, Kayla Simone 


This dissertation examines why planning is perceived as a barrier to the thermal improvement of conservation properties, and considers ways in which this might be addressed. The focus on thermal improvement is derived from a survey of UK scenario literature for energy management up to 2050. A further examination of the literature finds that conservation properties are particularly in need of thermal improvement; and barriers to thermal improvement are identified. A gap in the academic knowledge is found that identifies planning as a perceived barrier, but that there is no investigation of this widely held perception. The research question is therefore developed as, ‘Why is English planning perceived as a barrier to the thermal improvement of conservation properties and how can it be addressed?’

The dissertation methodology uses a pragmatic mixed-methods approach and research design. The first phase of the research examines ‘Why planning is perceived as a barrier’, by using surveys and interviews to gather evidence of the experiences and opinions of the multiple users of planning for conservation projects. Through this work, a lack of consistency and reliability in English planning is identified. The data suggests this may be due to the discretionary and fragmented nature of the English planning system which requires local authorities to interpret national policies and develop local plans and guidance. This results in local decision-making, which may not be consistent. Additionally, the research finds a perceived lack of strong national policy and guidance. This perceived lack of consistency and reliability in the application of planning is selected as the basis for validation phase of the dissertation research findings.

The validation research seeks to test the perception of a lack of consistency and reliability through a Comparative Information Quality assessment adapted and developed from the discipline of Information Management. Online planning guidance for conservation projects provided by 13 London Councils is compared. The method confirms and highlights areas of inconsistency across the Councils’ planning guidance. By identifying a number of areas of inconsistency, and by providing a tool that could help to ensure that policy is delivered consistently at the local level, this component of the research addresses the second part of the research question, ‘How can the planning barrier be addressed?’.

In conclusion, the dissertation suggests that planning is perceived as a barrier due to a lack of consistency and reliability in the planning process. Inconsistencies are identified and a recommendation is made for how these might be reduced.





Guthrie, Peter


planning, conservation, heritage, energy efficiency, retrofit, barriers, street-level bureaucrats, planning application, information quality, policy


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and international private property firm, Grosvenor - CASE award