Front covers of Historic England advice and guidance documents
Historic England publishes an extensive range of expert advice and guidance to help care for and protect historic places
Historic England publishes an extensive range of expert advice and guidance to help care for and protect historic places

Guidance Open for Consultation

Your chance to have a say on advice and guidance documents we've published in draft. Your feedback will help us make our advice and guidance useful.

Climate Change and Historic Building Adaptation Historic England Advice Note

The new Historic England Advice Note (HEAN) covers Climate Change and Historic Building Adaptation. It aims to provide advice to local planning authorities, and others involved in the planning process, on:

  • The need for planning permissions and/or other consents for some of the common changes required to decarbonise and improve the energy efficiency of historic buildings.
  • Determining proposals to decarbonise and improve the energy efficiency of historic buildings to enable positive climate action.
  • How local plans and other planning mechanisms can deliver a positive strategy for historic buildings that proactively supports climate action.

The final version will be supported by a series of online case studies and training for local authorities.

This is the first HEAN to set out a more progressive stance on climate change mitigation and is a key action in the delivery of Historic England’s Climate Change Strategy. Other areas of our work are set out in the Historic England Corporate Plan.

The government has signalled an indication to review the National Planning Policy Framework, in light of the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act receiving Royal Assent on 26 October. We will keep the HEAN, along with the need for further advice and training, under review, in response to any future legislative or policy changes.

The consultation

We are seeking feedback on the effectiveness of the advice contained in the HEAN. To help focus your feedback on the areas within scope for this consultation, we have compiled a list of nine questions as part of an online survey. If you do not wish to, it is not necessary to answer all the survey questions, however, we are only accepting feedback through the online survey. If you just want to provide general feedback, please see the last question which is an open question for general comments.

To help identify the sections of text that your comments relate to, please provide page, paragraph and/or sentence references.

Download the draft advice note

The consultation will close at 12 midnight on Sunday 24 December 2023

Submit your feedback

Frequently Asked Questions

Our written advice is available to local planning authorities alongside owners and developers when they are considering proposed changes to historic buildings, monuments, places and landscapes, usually referred to as heritage assets.

Historic England's published planning advice comes in two forms:

  • Good Practice Advice notes (GPAs) - provide supporting information on good practice, particularly looking at the principles of how national policy and guidance can be applied.
  • Historic England Advice Notes (HEANs) - include detailed, practical advice on how to implement national planning policy and guidance.

We keep our advice under review and update it in light of changes to the National Planning Policy Framework.

Historic buildings have a critical role to play in climate action. They can and must adapt to ensure they meet the future’s need for a low carbon society. Protecting historic buildings and addressing climate change are compatible goals; they can both be achieved.

This Advice Note sets out how carbon reduction, energy efficiency, and small-scale renewable and low-carbon energy generation measures can be accommodated and supported in historic buildings.

For more information on Historic England’s role in the planning system and how HEANs fit in see further explanation on our website.

Historic England always consults on new advice notes, both internally and externally, to ensure they are accurate and useful, drawing on sector expertise and knowledge.

We want to ensure that the Advice Note is effective and gives clear advice to help local planning authorities determine applications relating to climate change mitigation. We welcome comments that will help us improve the effectiveness of the Advice Note.

This Advice Note sets out a more progressive stance on delivering climate change mitigation and adaptation and is consistent with current government planning policy. We are aiming to make it clear that it is not a question of if historic buildings can be adapted to be more energy efficient but a question of how.

Conserving and making the most of our heritage and addressing climate change are not mutually exclusive aims; they can both be achieved, and this Advice Note sets out a clear position on how we will approach giving advice in the planning system.

Historic buildings need to be made more energy efficient and if done thoughtfully can support a low carbon economy. With 5.1 million historic homes in England, appropriate adaptation can help us to reach Net Zero.

We will support local authorities with advice and guidance and will be delivering training on this topic soon. We have developed a new training platform for the heritage and planning sector to do this.

Sympathetically upgrading and reusing buildings not just improves energy efficiency but keeping a building in use avoids losing the carbon emissions embodied in the building from its construction.

This Advice Note was developed to address the immediate need for historic buildings to play a critical role to lower carbon emissions, our reliance on fossil fuels, and household bills.

We recognise the role that other elements of the historic environment, beyond buildings, can play in delivering climate action. We also recognise that our responses to climate change can impact all aspects of the historic environment, beyond just buildings and beyond just carbon reduction and energy saving measures.

We will be producing advice on other climate challenges affecting the historic environment and have started the process of identifying additional advice requirements.

Guidance Team