Here at the Peckham Society we are often asked to support or even initiate campaigns to have buildings listed. Almost as if there is a magic wand that could be waved by our Committee. However it does not work like that and the criteria for listing are stiff. Interestingly buildings can also be delisted!
On 1 April 2015 the part of English Heritage responsible for Listing and Designation changed its name to Historic England and it is they who are responsible for adding historic places to the National Heritage List for England (NHLE). www.historicengland.org.uk
There are forms on their website that enable you to apply to:
- List a building
- Schedule a monument
- Register a park, garden or battlefield
- Protect a [ship] wreck site
The same form enables you to amend or remove existing records from the National Heritage List for England. Applications for Certificates of Immunity (COI) and Building Preservation Notices (BPN) can also be made. However, certain restrictions apply to these types of application, which are explained in more detail in the fact sheets available for COIs and BPNs under the Related Documents section of their website.
National Heritage will prioritise the assessment of heritage assets under threat of demolition, alteration, removal or salvage but as you can imagine they receive many applications for such designation and these need to be balanced against their more strategic work, and of course the funding available also has an effect on what they will be able to progress for consideration.
Interestingly NHLE state clearly that they will use their finite resources to progress those that are most in need of attention and will only take forward applications for designation where the building or site:
- Is demonstrably under serious threat of demolition or major alteration
- Is a Designation Department priority under Historic England’s programme of strategic work
- Possesses evident significance, and is obviously worthy of inclusion on the National Heritage List for England
Quite simply applications received which do not meet one of these three criteria will not be taken forward. Historic England has guidance sheets available on their website as well as the forms you would need to download and fill in as part of the process to apply to have a building or place listed or designated. It is made quite clear that considerable research into the history of the building or monument that you wish to have listed must be done and also documentation clearly recorded in a prescribed format. There are several useful booklets on the site that give full information for what you need to know to decide whether the building is suitable for listing: including those for Agricultural Buildings; Commemorative Structures; Commerce and Exchange Buildings; Culture and Entertainment; Domestic 1 – Vernacular Houses; Domestic 2 – Town Houses; Domestic 3 – Suburban and Country Houses; Domestic 4 – The Modern House and Housing, and the list goes on. Also on this tremendously interesting website are samples of applications (showing the in depth research, documentary evidences and photographs that were presented to NHLE).
The test for listing buildings is architectural or historic special interest, with the final decision to list being taken by government (the Department for Culture, Media and Sport). Designation is the act of identifying the most important parts of England’s heritage so they can receive special protection. NHLE celebrate their significance – and make sure that such history can be enjoyed by present and future generations.
Interestingly if you know of any war memorial that is not listed, NHLE would love to hear from you. Because war memorials remain such powerful and poignant reminders of the war’s impact on communities, they have been specifically identified by the Government for attention over 2014-18. Currently only 1,300 of England’s war memorials are listed, which is a small percentage of the total. If you know of an unlisted war memorial you can apply for it to be listed using the guidance and forms on the English Heritage website.
One of our planning and conservation experts Bill Morris has briefly outlined some of the key points regarding listing of buildings:
- Is it a good building, if so are there any other examples?
- Is it by a famous architect; if so are there other examples? (A reason for turning down the application for St Mary’s church)
- Is it very old? This is why the timber framed houses in Peckham High Street are listed – their rarity value.
- Does it have important historical value? e.g. the concrete house in Lordship Lane and the Pioneer Health Centre.
Buildings need to be exceptional. Remember the Edwardian house in Chadwick Road that we wrote about in Spring 2008 (PSN 111)? This was not considered of sufficient rarity or interest to list.
Both the Peckham Society and Peckham Vision are keen to know of people with an interest in preserving the heritage and history of Peckham and who might be able to give time to work on advising on specific projects, review buildings or to contribute specialist knowledge. In the first instance please email email@example.com if you would like to join our valuable team of experts.
Sue Hill and Bill Morris
With thanks to the NHLE website – www.historicengland.org.uk
(Reprinted from: The Peckham Society News, the quarterly magazine of The Peckham Society. This is sent to members every spring, summer, autumn and winter. Back issues, where available, are available for £2.00 inc. p&p or 6 for £10.00.)