Publication Local Plan, Chapter 20: Heritage

Creating a fairer Salford by:

  • Protecting and enhancing the city’s heritage, which makes an important contribution to local history and identity for communities across the city
  • Increasing public access to heritage assets, and information about them, so that everyone is able to appreciate the city’s rich history

20.1 The city of Salford has a long and fascinating history, which is reflected not only in its diverse range of heritage assets but also the identity of its communities and neighbourhoods.

20.2 There is evidence of human activity in the Salford area for several thousand years, with finds of flints and axes from the earliest periods, Bronze Age artefacts, the remains of Iron Age settlements and Roman roads, and the discovery of Worsley Man from around AD150 whose remains indicate that he may have been a sacrificial victim. The oldest surviving place name within Salford is that of Eccles, probably from the 6th century derived from the old British word 'ecles' meaning a church, with several other place names in the city thought to date from the 7th Salford, meaning ‘the ford by the willow’, gave its name to the Salford Hundred, one of the six administrative districts covering the land ‘between the Ribble and Mersey’, with the Domesday Book of 1086 suggesting that the majority of the land was either forest or uncultivated waste and that the population was very small.

20.3 The medieval town of Salford was centred around the triangle of roads formed by the modern Greengate, Gravel Lane and Chapel Street (now part of City Centre Salford), being granted the right to hold a market in 1228 and made a free borough in 1230. Concurrent with these events was the development of a number of manorial sites, with Ordsall Hall surviving. The 16th and 17th centuries witnessed an increase in population, by which time the domestic-based manufacture of textiles was firmly established as part of the town's economy.

20.4 During the 18th and 19th centuries, Salford gained its reputation as an industrial city, with key innovations such as the opening of the Bridgewater Canal in 1761, the first canal in Britain to be built without following an existing watercourse, and the opening of the Manchester-Liverpool rail line in 1830, marking the dawn of the railway age that would transform the world. The population of Salford grew from less than 30,000 in 1801 to over 256,000 by 1891, resulting in extensive areas of high-density housing. However, a striking feature on mid-19th century mapping of the city is the amount of land given over to high-status villa housing, elite houses and private parkland. The construction of the Manchester Ship Canal, which opened in 1894, and the creation of Salford Docks at the turn of the 20th century had a massive impact on the landscape of south Salford, with the docks subsequently closing in the 1980s and later transformed into Salford Quays. Salford officially became a city in 1926, with its current extent resulting from the local government reorganisation of 1974 when the former County Borough of the City of Salford was merged with the municipal boroughs of Eccles and Swinton and Pendlebury and the urban districts of Irlam and Worsley [1].

20.5 This history has left Salford with a diverse range of heritage assets, with the potential for further important palaeo-environmental [2] and archaeological evidence to be discovered. The city’s pivotal role in the industrial revolution is reflected in this heritage. Salford also has a proud history of social advancement. This includes:

  • The vegetarian movement starting in Salford in 1815
  • Chapel Street hosting the first cooperative Congress in 1831 [3]
  • Kersal Moor holding the largest of the Chartist meetings in 1838
  • The Crescent pub (then the Red Dragon) frequented by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the 1840s
  • Peel Park being one of the first three public parks in the country opening in 1846
  • Britain’s first public library opening in 1850 in what is now the Salford Museum and Art Gallery
  • The idea for the first Trades Union Congress discussed in a Chapel Street pub in 1866
  • The Battle of Bexley Square in 1931 when a 10,000-strong crowd protested against cuts in unemployment benefits,

20.6 Today the city hosts the Working Class Movement Library, one of the most unusual libraries in the world, in a grade II listed former nurses home built in 1897. The city’s more recent social history and identity is also tied to the endeavours of hometown artists, such as those of painter LS Lowry, folk singer Ewan MacColl and playwright Shelagh Delaney.

20.7 Salford’s history and heritage are hugely important to its residents. The pace and scale of change can lead to concerns about the impact on the character and identity of the city and its individual neighbourhoods, increasing the importance of heritage. In addition to being valuable in its own right, the historic environment can also enhance quality of life, make locations more attractive for investment, and support tourism activity. Hence it is vital that heritage issues are fully considered and addressed as Salford continues to develop, and that the city’s history is acknowledged and cherished.

Heritage protection

20.8 Salford has a significant number and wide range of heritage assets. Some of these are formally designated due to their special interest or identified locally as being important, but much of the city’s historic interest is not officially defined particularly in terms of its archaeology. Indeed, there is considerable potential for additional archaeological features to be found that are currently unknown, such as in parts of Chat Moss.

20.9 Salford’s historic environment record provides details of all known heritage assets, and is managed on behalf of the city council by the Greater Manchester Archaeological Advisory Service. As of December 2019, Salford has 235 listed building entries, 16 conservation areas, 3 scheduled ancient monuments and 2 registered parks and gardens. It also has a local list of heritage assets containing almost 300 entries. The designation of heritage assets is not static, and it may be appropriate for new assets to be designated and in exceptional circumstances for existing assets to be de-designated.

20.10 The protection and enhancement of its heritage assets is an important priority for Salford, and will help to deliver wider social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits. It will also support a strong local identity for the city, helping to differentiate it from other places and strengthening community pride.

20.11 The value of heritage is recognised in legislation, with heritage being identified as more than just another material consideration. The relevant act is clear that special regard needs to be had to the desirability of preserving listed buildings and their settings and interesting features, and that special attention needs to be paid to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of conservation areas [4]. National planning policy emphasises the irreplaceable nature of heritage assets, both designated and non-designated, and the need to conserve them in a manner appropriate to their significance [5].

20.12 It is important to recognise that all places evolve over time. Change is not inherently problematic, and indeed can help to accentuate historic interest, and not everything that is old is necessarily worthy of protection.

Policy HE1 Heritage protection

Salford’s heritage assets and their setting will be conserved and their enhancement encouraged, ensuring that they continue to make a positive contribution to the character and identity of the city’s neighbourhoods.

The level of protection afforded to any individual heritage asset will reflect:

  1. Whether it is a designated or non-designated heritage asset;
  2. The nature, extent and level of its significance, having regard to its architectural, historic, artistic and/or archaeological interest;
  3. The degree to which the setting and significance of other heritage assets is reliant on it and their relationship to each other and the individual heritage asset; and
  4. The contribution that it makes to the character and identity of the local area and Salford more generally including the following key elements:
    1. The earliest evidence of human activity, such as the Iron Age promontory fort in Cadishead, the Roman Roads that ran along the line of Bury New Road and through the centre of the city from Ordsall via Worsley to Ellenbrook and Little Hulton, and Bronze Age archaeology in the mosslands
    2. The city’s Medieval beginnings, found particularly in City Centre Salford and in manorial sites such as Ordsall Hall and Wardley Hall
    3. The city’s industrial origins, such as Islington Mill where textiles were manufactured
    4. Infrastructure of national and international significance, such as the Bridgewater Canal, the Manchester Ship Canal, the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal, the Manchester-Liverpool rail line, the former Salford Docks (now Salford Quays) and Barton Aerodrome
    5. The city’s mid-19th Century development, such as the high status villa housing and parkland found in Broughton, along the Crescent, in Ellesmere Park and at Buile Hill Park
    6. The nineteenth century institutional and civic buildings, such as former town halls, educational buildings, public baths and theatres
    7. The city’s social history, such as Bexley Square and Kersal Moor where major public gatherings of historic significance took place

Harm to heritage assets shall be minimised as far as practicable. The acceptability of any such harm will be determined in accordance with the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework.

Where harm to heritage assets is unavoidable, appropriate compensation shall be provided, for example by better revealing the significance of the heritage assets, securing repairs to them, improving public access to them, and providing publicly accessible information about them. Where a heritage asset will be, or has been, lost or covered up, then the development design should make an appropriate reference to it.


A heritage asset is a building, monument, site, place or landscape identified as having a degree of significance meriting consideration in planning decisions.

Heritage assets include designated heritage assets (such as scheduled monuments, listed buildings, registered parks and gardens, and conservation areas) and non-designated assets identified by the local planning authority (such as through local listing).

The significance of an asset is its value to this and future generations because of its heritage interest. Significance derives not only from a heritage asset’s physical presence but also from its setting.

Heritage assets as shown on the Policies Map

Conservation areas

  1. Adelphi/Bexley Square
  2. Barton-upon-Irwell
  3. Cathedral
  4. Cliff
  5. Crescent
  6. Ellesmere Park
  7. Flat Iron
  8. Irlams o' th' Height
  9. Mines Rescue Station
  10. Monton Green
  11. Radcliffe Park Road
  12. Roe Green/Beesley Green
  13. St Augustine's
  14. St Mark's
  15. Worsley Old Hall
  16. Worsley Village

Scheduled ancient monuments

  1. The Delph, Worsley Road, Worsley, the canal tunnel entrances and wharf, dating back to 1759 to 1760
  2. Wardley Hall moated site, Wardley Hall Road, Worsley, a moated site with island occupied by medieval hall and gardens
  3. Promontory Fort, 300 metres west of Great Woolden Hall Farm, Cadishead, a promontory hill fort dating back to the Iron Age
  4. Lime Kiln, Barton Road, Worsley (proposed)

Registered historic parks and gardens

  1. Buile Hill Park, Weaste and Seedley/Langworthy (grade II)
  2. Weaste Cemetery, Weaste and Seedley (grade II)

Map of Salford: Heritage assets

Managing change across historic areas

20.13 The historic environment of Salford consists of much more than its individual heritage assets. It also includes the setting of those assets, their grouping and interrelationships, and the wider historic significance, evolution and stories of places. Some areas of historic interest are formally designated as conservation areas, and it may be appropriate for additional conservation areas to be designated, but not all areas of interest will be suitable for designation.

20.14 In some ways all parts of Salford may be considered to have some heritage interest, as they have all evolved over time and have a story to tell. Appropriately managing change across each area is not about preventing development, but instead relates to the need to recognise and respond to the history and heritage of the area. Development should reveal rather than extinguish that history, and support a strong and distinctive character for each place. This could for example include reflecting historic identity in development design, street naming and public art.

20.15 It may be appropriate for development in some historic areas to be guided by a masterplan for the wider area, in accordance with Policy EF2. Policy D2 (Local character and distinctiveness) is also especially relevant to managing change in historic areas.

Policy HE2 Managing change across historic areas

Development shall:

  1. Protect, conserve and enhance the historic character of places; and
  2. Positively respond to the history and stories of the local area, enabling people to understand how the site and area have changed over time.

Within key historic locations, development and other change will be carefully managed in accordance with the following approach:

  1. Greengate, Salford Central and the Crescent – new development shall be carefully designed to ensure it does not detract from the large number of assets, including those in neighbouring Manchester and where appropriate, opportunities to secure enhancements to assets will be sought
  2. Worsley Village and the Bridgewater Canal Corridor – major investment in the area’s heritage assets, including those within RHS Garden Bridgewater, will support its strategically important tourism and leisure roles, and the protection of the West Salford Greenway will assist in preserving the setting and special character of historic settlements in this part of the city
  3. Barton Aerodrome – development and infrastructure investment shall respect and sustain the unique historic aviation landscape of Britain’s first municipal airport, which opened in 1930 and where the country’s first designated runways, first civil aviation aircraft hangar, first airport terminal building and first flight control tower still survive
  4. Eccles Town Centre – development shall protect and enhance the centre’s, historic character having regard to the high concentration of assets and the best surviving medieval core in the city, as well as its historic associations with the Eccles cake.  A coordinated approach will be taken to the renewal of the town centre in a way that maximises the benefits of the highly accessible location whilst protecting and enhancing its heritage interest
  5. Ordsall Hall – the continued redevelopment of Ordsall Waterfront and other parts of the Ordsall area must protect and enhance the setting and views of one of the city’s most important heritage assets
  6. The wider Chat Moss area – activity must respond to the high potential for discoveries of further prehistoric archaeological remains and Iron Age evidence, and some areas of peat may retain important palaeo-environmental evidence and possibly bog bodies [6]

A positive role for heritage assets

20.16 Heritage assets that are actively used are much more likely to be subject to an appropriate maintenance regime that helps to protect their long-term future and heritage interest, whereas vacant historic buildings often fall into disrepair that can ultimately lead to their partial or complete loss. Finding appropriate uses for Salford’s heritage assets is therefore an important priority, and the city council will work with developers, Historic England and stakeholders in achieving this.

20.17 Salford’s heritage will need to adapt to changing circumstances. This may involve some alterations and adaptations in order to accommodate new uses, but it needs to be ensured that these are sensitively designed and implemented so that the heritage interest is not significantly diminished.

20.18 Temporary uses of historic buildings can often be appropriate, as they provide a way of testing the market and securing the active use of heritage assets without the need for changes to the built fabric. Artistic uses and performance events can be particularly successful at increasing the public connection to the city’s heritage. The involvement of local communities can help to identify and secure long-term uses for heritage assets.

Policy HE3 A positive future for heritage assets

The positive use of heritage assets will be encouraged, helping to ensure that they are appropriately maintained.

The use secured should be consistent with the protection and enhancement of the asset’s heritage significance and its sustainable long-term use. The original or a historically significant use will typically be the most appropriate long-term use for a heritage asset, and where a proposal departs from this then the applicant will need to demonstrate why it is not feasible to retain or restore that use original/historic use.

Uses that provide opportunities for heritage learning and public access to and appreciation of heritage will be looked on more favourably.

Heritage at risk

20.19 Owning or occupying a heritage asset is both a privilege and a responsibility. It can often involve extra costs, such as in terms of the materials and skills required to maintain a historic building, but it also offers additional benefits including the character of accommodation that can contribute to commercial opportunities and quality of life.

20.20 Unfortunately, not all owners and occupiers of heritage assets fulfil their responsibilities, and buildings and structures can fall into disrepair or suffer inappropriate adaptations as a result. Sometimes this is through deliberate negligence, but it can also be the result of the sheer scale of maintenance liabilities such as those faced by religious organisations in the upkeep of churches.

20.21 Historic England updates annually its Heritage at Risk Register, which identifies the designated heritage assets most at risk and most in need of safeguarding for the future. Other organisations such as the Theatres Trust also publish lists of heritage assets that are at risk. The planning acts provide the city council with various powers to intervene where a heritage asset is at risk, but their use is contingent on the availability of adequate resources.

20.22 It is wholly unacceptable for owners and occupiers to deliberately allow heritage assets to fall into disrepair, or to avoid maintenance responsibilities in the hope of securing more profitable uses for a building or site in the future. National policy is clear that: “Where there is evidence of deliberate neglect of, or damage to, a heritage asset, the deteriorated state of the heritage asset should not be taken into account in any decision.” [7] Prospective owners should have full regard to the likely costs of restoration and maintenance of heritage assets in the price they pay for a site or building.

Policy HE4 Heritage at risk

The owners and occupiers of heritage assets that are at risk should seek to address the source of the risk at the earliest opportunity, in a manner consistent with the long-term protection of the heritage asset. They are strongly encouraged to investigate grant funding opportunities.

Where appropriate, a range of actions may be taken to secure the appropriate restoration or maintenance of heritage assets, including enforcement action against unauthorised changes, compulsory purchase orders, urgent works notices, and dangerous structure orders.

When assessing a development proposal, the reduction or removal of risk to a heritage asset will be considered a public benefit that counts in favour of the proposal.

Heritage information and interpretation

20.23 High quality information is essential for the protection and appreciation of the city’s heritage. Various approvals are required for works affecting heritage assets, and the related applications can only be determined if they are accompanied by a clear heritage assessment setting out the significance of any heritage assets that would be affected, the likely impacts of the proposed works, and how any likely harm has been minimised and mitigated.

20.24 There is huge public interest in the city’s history and heritage assets. Hence it is important to increase public access to heritage information and interpretation wherever possible, both on-site and as part of the historic environment record, and this can be a valued resource for communities. This connection to, and evidence of, a site’s history and heritage can also increase a development’s attractiveness to potential occupiers and investors, adding to its distinctiveness and combating uniformity.

20.25 Where heritage assets are to be lost or covered up then it is especially important that they are fully recorded and this evidence is made publicly available. However, national policy is clear that a commitment to such recording can in no way justify the loss of a heritage asset [8].

20.26 All of these issues can be particularly important for below ground archaeology, the details of which may not be fully understood at the point of application. This can result in the need for archaeological investigations prior to development taking place, and preservation and recording of anything that is found as a result.

Policy HE5 Heritage information and interpretation

All applications that affect the historic environment, heritage assets and their setting must be accompanied by a heritage assessment that provides appropriately detailed information to enable a full understanding of the significance of the relevant heritage assets and the potential impacts of the proposal.

Where significant potential for below ground artefacts or remains has been identified, an archaeological investigation will be required prior to the development of the site.

Proposals affecting heritage assets shall seek to maximise public access to information about those assets, proportionate to the significance of those assets and the impacts on them, including by:

  1. Recording details of any heritage assets that would be harmed, lost or covered up
  2. Making any information about the heritage assets available for public inspection, including as part of the historic environment record
  3. Publishing the findings of archaeological and other heritage investigations in an easily accessible format
  4. Drawing attention to heritage assets through signage and plaques
  5. Providing interpretation panels/boards on or around the site, and/or for use in public spaces
  6. Making materials available for use in schools and other community activities


20.27 Salford had a crucial role in the history of the canal, and hence the industrial revolution. Not only are the city’s canals, and their remnants, important heritage assets, but they also have a significant recreation role, provide walking and cycling routes, and contribute to local identity.

20.28 The Bridgewater Canal, extending from Worsley in Salford to Manchester, opened in 1761 and was the first canal in Britain to be constructed without following an existing watercourse. It was originally built to transport coal more efficiently from the Duke of Bridgewater’s underground mine at Worsley, and reportedly resulted in the price of coal in Manchester falling by around half. It marked the start of the golden era of canals. Subsequent extensions included a leg through Salford from Worsley to Leigh, connecting the Bridgewater Canal to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The construction of the Manchester Ship Canal in the nineteenth century resulted in the replacement of the original stone Barton Aqueduct with the unique Barton Swing Aqueduct, now grade II* listed.

20.29 The Bridgewater Canal also had a secondary purpose of providing drainage to alleviate flooding in the Worsley mines. At the same time that the canal was being constructed, a tunnel was being built from Worsley Delph, the original terminus of the canal, to access the coal seams. This subsequently led to the completion of a network of underground canals extending to around 46 miles across several levels, connected by locks and an inclined plane, collectively known as the Worsley Navigable Levels. This enabled coal to be taken out of the mines using narrow ‘starvationer’ boats, and then transferred onto larger vessels at the Delph. The Delph is a scheduled ancient monument (policy HE1/17), and its two entrances to the underground mines together with their sluice gates are grade II listed. There are two conservation areas along the canal, at Worsley Village (policy HE1/16) and Barton-upon-Irwell (policy HE1/2).

20.30 The Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal opened between Oldfield Road in Salford and Bolton and Bury in 1796. It was subsequently extended from Oldfield Road to connect to the River Irwell in 1808, and most of this later section was restored in 2008 through the Middlewood area of the City Centre. Much of the canal has been drained and filled in, however some stretches of the original canal remain, primarily around Agecroft north of Park House Bridge, with areas in water including a designated Site of Biological Importance (policy BG2/26). Restoration of the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal and its towpath is a multi-million pound project, and will be a long term proposition. In places the original line of the canal has been severed by significant infrastructure (including the A6 and railway lines) and therefore at these pinch points there may need to be some deviation from it in order to deliver an achievable route that could potentially be fully navigable. Similarly, it will be important to ensure that protecting the original line of the canal does not impede significant infrastructure and regeneration projects, such as for example the proposed tram train link from Salford Quays to Salford Crescent station.

20.31 Fletcher’s Canal provided a short link from the Wet Earth Colliery at Clifton to the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal at the Clifton Aqueduct, and was completed by 1800. Few features of the original canal remain, although there is a footpath through Clifton Country Park along the former towpath.

20.32 The Manchester Ship Canal, which forms the southern boundary of the city, was constructed largely along the original routes of the Irwell and Mersey rivers, extending to 36 miles. It enabled ocean-going vessels direct access to the heart of the Greater Manchester conurbation, and when it opened in 1894 it was the largest river navigation canal in the world. The Barton Swing Aqueduct, which carries the Bridgewater Canal across it, is the only swing aqueduct in the world, and widely recognised as a major feat of Victorian engineering. The Manchester Ship Canal continues to be an important piece of transport infrastructure, enabling the sustainable movement of freight, as well as a significant heritage asset.

Policy HE6 Canals

The canals in Salford will be protected as important heritage assets, including:

  1. The Bridgewater Canal
  2. Worsley Navigable Levels
  3. The Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal and its former line
  4. Fletcher’s Canal and its former line
  5. The Manchester Ship Canal

In the case of the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal and Fletcher’s Canal:

  1. Development alongside the line of the canal shall facilitate its restoration or, where this is not practicable, provide open space incorporating walking and cycling routes and heritage interpretation features along its line so that the potential for future restoration is retained and people can appreciate the history of the canal; and
  2. Development that would prevent or significantly hinder the future restoration of the canal or its towpath will not be permitted.


20.33 The main indicators that will be used to monitor this chapter are:

Indicator Baseline position (2018/ 2019) Target
Heritage assets identified as ‘at risk’ on the Historic England Heritage at Risk Register 14 [9] Reduction in the number of assets at risk
Number of heritage assets lost or de-designated None Maintain
Number of statutorily protected heritage assets 235 [10] No net reduction


[1] Significant sections of this introduction are taken from:

The Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit (November 2010) Greater Manchester Urban Historic

Landscape Characterisation: Salford District Report

Population figures from: GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, Salford District through time | Population Statistics | Total Population, A Vision of Britain through Time

[2] Of, or pertaining to, the environment at a particular time in the geologic past


[4] Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas Act 1990), sections 66 and 70

[5] Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (July 2018) National Planning Policy Framework, paragraph 184 and definition of ‘heritage asset’ in Annex 2

[6] A bog body is a human cadaver that has been naturally mummified in a peat bog

[7] Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (February 2019) National Planning Policy Framework, paragraph 191

[8] Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (February 2019) National Planning Policy Framework, paragraph 199

[9] Historic England (October 2019) Heritage at Risk North West Register 2019

[10] Salford City Council (December 2019)

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