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Managing Visitor Safety in the Historic Built Environment: principles & practice

By Visitor Safety in the Countryside Group

The historic built environment is defined as buildings, monuments, archaeological remains, other man-made structures and designed parks and gardens that are historic places of significance. VSCG, Historic Built Environment Subgroup

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 The Visitor Safety in the Countryside Group (VSCG) was created in 1997 to develop a consistent approach to visitor safety management. Our members are committed to protecting and enhancing the natural and historic built environment whilst encouraging public access.

The group includes organisations that own and manage land and property, with day-to-day experience of visitor management, as well as national policymakers and specialist safety advisers.


We work together in order to:

. identify and share good practice

. promote the application of consistent management principles

. develop a model approach to risk assessment that incorporates valuing benefits

. encourage consistency in the choice and application of risk control measures

. seek a balanced and pragmatic approach to dealing with the many varied factors that affect visitor safety management

. produce sound interpretation of legislative requirements and court decisions


The guiding principles and practical risk management techniques covered in this book have been developed and implemented by our members over many years.


They were first published in “Managing Visitor Safety in the Countryside - principles & practice” in 2003. They have proved their worth in practice and have been recognised by enforcing authorities and courts as the basis for sensible risk management.

The guiding principles have been adapted for use by the National Water Safety Forum and the National Tree Safety Group. Now, in this book, we show how the principles can be specifically applied in the historic built environment.

Our fundamental aim is to identify and promote ways to manage visitor safety that sustain the heritage significance and value to society of historic places.

The advice will help anyone who invites or allows members of the public into:

. castles
. cathedrals
. estates
. churches
. stately homes
. bridges and aqueducts
. landscape gardens
. parks
. follies
. earthworks
. industrial heritage sites
. visitor centres in historic places


These are some of the more common examples. The historic built environment might also include other properties such as historic schools, theatres and cinemas; buildings or sites associated with transport heritage; military buildings, battlefields and war memorials; graveyards and mausoleums; agricultural buildings; piers and coastal heritage buildings and structures.

The book does not advise on occupational health and safety in the workplace or the requirements of equality and discrimination legislation, as these are well covered elsewhere.

Our website, www.vscg.co.uk, features case studies and gives examples of good practice. We welcome suggestions or contributions from individuals and organisations involved in visitor risk management.


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