Heritage planning is ‘the application of heritage conservation within the context of planning’. The book is concerned with the tangible and intangible aspects of historic place. Although legislation concerning heritage goes at least as far back as the Romans, the protection of historic place has become a mainstream concern in the 20th century. Heritage planning is a profession distinct from planning, conservation architecture and urban design, although it has impact on and is impacted upon by all of these.
Under two major sections, Principles and Process, this sober and well-written text presents a comprehensive picture of the subject, including the heritage sector, the legal frameworks, best practices, and various techniques. The book is international in scope although Anglophone in focus, covering history, documents and process in Canada, the UK, the US and Australia. It zooms out to discuss international agreements and charters, and zooms in to focus on techniques of heritage planning and local concerns. The author tirelessly explains the different terminology in different countries, and explains concepts around and not just within heritage planning. For instance, the questions of how heritage concerns meet other concerns such as development, economics, environmental sustainability and building codes, are addressed, with relevant terminology in these areas explained as well. The book is reasonably well illustrated. Highlight boxes are used to digress into explanations or examples that help the author make his point.
For a book that explicitly states that it is not about urban design, Heritage Planning contains much that is of relevance to urban designers. In practice, this might be a reference book, a first port of call to inform discussions with heritage professionals. It helpfully discusses not just issues but also techniques of heritage planning. In the classroom, this would make an excellent textbook, source book or reference book. Finally, unlike many other books with such weighty content, it could even be bedtime reading for those inclined to relax with their work.
Knowledge in the area of heritage planning moves so quickly that some parts of the book will be out of date by the time the reader reads it. Nevertheless, it is a timely snapshot that communicates the breadth of the field without either sacrificing too much depth or succumbing to trying to make heritage fashionable. It just does what it says on the cover, and well.