Most people would agree that heritage features, i.e. those relating to our cultural history, should be protected. Such features benefit society in promoting local traditions, a sense of identity, local pride and investment. It can also be linked to the health and wellbeing benefits described in Access, as people are more likely to visit an area containing a feature they take an interest in. From an economic viewpoint, heritage features are valuable for tourism; a recent survey found that over half of respondents consider history and culture in their choice of holiday destination, and culture or heritage tourists are more likely to spend money and stay longer. Heritage features can also be beneficial for nature, as sites containing such features are less likely to be developed.
Features can be small-scale (e.g. a listed building) or landscape-scale (e.g. Heritage Coast). They may also be internationally designated (e.g. UNESCO World Heritage Site), regionally designated (e.g. County Geology Site) or undesignated (e.g. a medieval field boundary). The significance of each feature is considered in the assessment. Even if a feature is not within the site boundary, it is still adds value to the site if it is in close proximity and/or can be seen from the site. It also helps if the site is being managed in a way that conserves and/or draws attention to features to educate visitors.
The highest scoring sites will contain a number of significant heritage features in a landscape of historic value. Low-scoring sites may not necessarily be devoid of features but may contain as yet undiscovered, unmapped or undesignated historic assets.