Cultural heritage is being addressed by a number of charters and conventions and it is clear that its consideration within decision-making processes is progressively becoming a real challenge, both for developers and public authorities. Against this background, this paper reviews the environmental assessment framework developed by the European Community, as this should increasingly influence decision making about cultural heritage in an urban setting. The legislative framework for access to environmental information is also reviewed because of its relevance to the decision-making process. The Directives on Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment both require a consideration of cultural heritage in decision making. This requirement can go some way to addressing the paradox in the European Community's position whereby the community wishes to conserve and enhance its own cultural identity whilst, at the same time, cultural heritage is usually defined at a local level. The present paper suggests that, given their flexibility, the two European Community directives on environmental assessment constitute a promising opportunity to address this seeming paradox, but that there is a significant gap between legal obligations and the methodological tools to meet them.