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How We Determine Whether a Historic Building or Site Should be Protected

We have produced a series of selection guides to help us to recommend whether a historic building or site should be added to the National Heritage List for England (NHLE).

These expand upon the guidance produced by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), set out below in Other Guidance. 

When it comes to listing a building, scheduling a monument or protecting a wreck site, the final decision is taken by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. They also decide whether a building, a monument or a wreck can be removed from the List or whether a List entry can be amended.

When it comes to registering a park, garden or battlefield the decision is taken by Historic England. We also decide whether a park, garden or battlefield can be removed from the List or whether a List entry can be amended.

Our selection guides

Our selection guides help to explain what we are looking for when we assess applications for inclusion on the NHLE.

There are currently 44 selection guides covering the full range of building types, archaeological sites, designed landscapes, battlefields, and wrecks:

Each of the selection guides gives a broad overview before moving on to set out subject-specific selection principles. Historic England will re-issue all of the selection guides in 2016, and although we do not anticipate making substantive changes, we would be interested to hear from you if you have any comments. All comments should be sent to Paul Stamper (see contact details below).

Introductions to heritage assets

These short guides build on the information provided in the selection guides and provide a more thorough introduction to a range of specific types of archaeological sites, buildings, wrecks, and designed landscapes, about which little else may be written. Check the links below for more detailed information:

View of White Garden at Sissinghurst Castle.
White Garden, Sissinghurst Castle, Kent. Mid-20th century formal garden. Registered at Grade I. NHLE List entry number 1000181. Castle Listed at Grade I. NHLE List entry number 1346285. © Historic England

Other guidance

The system of getting historic buildings and sites protected is not as straightforward as we would like.

Buildings, archaeological sites, designed landscapes, battlefields, and maritime wreck sites all operate under separate pieces of legislation:

  • Listing Buildings - Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990
  • Scheduling Archaeological Sites - Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Area Act 1979
  • Protecting Wreck Sites - Protection of Wrecks Act 1973, the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, and the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986
  • Registering of Parks and Gardens and Battlefields - The Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953

The DCMS has produced guidance on the Principles of Selection for Listing Buildings which sets out the general principles applied when deciding whether a building is of special architectural or historic interest.

The DCMS has also written a Scheduled Monuments Policy Statement which provides more detail on identifying, protecting, conserving and investigating nationally important archaeological sites under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.


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