Scheduled Monument Consent

Scheduled monument consent is required for most works and other activities that physically affect a scheduled monument. In practice this is a very strict regime under which very little, if any, disturbance of the monument is possible without consent.

Carrying out an activity without consent where it was needed is a criminal offence. Consent must be obtained from the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport through Historic England for any of the following:

  • Works resulting in the demolition or destruction or any damage to a scheduled monument
  • Works for the purpose of removing, repairing, adding to or altering a scheduled monument
  • Flooding or tipping operations on land in, on or under which there is a scheduled monument (ref. 1)

Unlike the listed building consent regime, the need for consent is not based on a judgment as to whether the works or activity will affect the heritage significance of the scheduled monument. The question is solely whether the proposed works or operations fall into the above categories.

If a scheduled monument is also a listed building, listed building consent is not required. However, planning permission may be required in addition to scheduled monument consent for the works if they also amount to development and are not permitted development.

Applications for scheduled monument consent are submitted to Historic England, which is responsible for the administration of the regime and recommendations to the Secretary of State as to whether consent should be given and, if so, on any conditions that should be attached to the consent.

Historic England can advise on the process for an application and also the merits of any proposal in principle. It is advisable to contact the appropriate Historic England local office to discuss plans at an early stage and certainly before an application is made to identify whether a proposed scheme is likely to be recommended in principle before any detailed design is undertaken.

Most applications are decided on paper (written representations), but the applicant will be offered the opportunity to have their case heard orally (at a local public inquiry or a hearing).
When scheduled monument consent is granted it is usually subject to certain conditions that may specify methods of working, or arrangements for prior archaeological investigation and recording. These conditions are listed in the consent letter and are applied in order to safeguard the scheduled monument. It is a criminal offence to breach any of the conditions listed in the consent letter.

Class consent

Certain categories of works to a scheduled monument are consented to without the need for an application by virtue of the Ancient Monuments (Class Consents) Order 1994 (ref. 2).

These class consents are narrowly defined and are subject to specified conditions, limitations and/or exclusions.

Undertaking works that are not covered by the order, without obtaining scheduled monument consent first, is a criminal offence. Historic England may be contacted for advice before undertaking any works that may benefit from a class consent.

The activities covered by class consent and which are most commonly relied upon are those relating to agriculture, horticulture (gardening) and works urgently needed in the interests of safety and health.