This page provides information on housing development in the historic built environment.
Some 4.4 million houses, representing around 20 per cent of the total housing stock, were built before 1919.
Some of these have been designated as listed buildings or lie within conservation areas and are therefore protected by certain planning control, but the majority of these buildings do not receive any form of legal protection. The same is true for the vast majority of houses built after 1919.
The local distinctiveness, identity and sense of place that residential areas create is often valued by the local community, and should be carefully considered when decisions on future development are being made.
Sometimes, it is only after development decisions have been taken that the heritage value or significance of particular housing is properly understood.
Decisions on future development therefore need to be taken from a position of informed understanding so that significance and character are conserved and any new housing enhances its context.
New housing in historic areas
Over recent years, demand for new housing has outstripped supply in England. As a result, development pressure in many historic places has grown, creating new challenges in accommodating badly-needed new houses in sensitive locations.
Historic England has explored many of the issues associated with the current housing market, including several approaches adopted by local authorities, house builders and local communities that have resulted in successful housing development in historic places.
Historic England has produced advice to help local planning authorities and other stakeholders to successfully implement the historic environment policy within the NPPF in respect of:
- Local plan making
- Decision taking and
- Assessing the impact of development on the setting of heritage assets
Historic England has also commissioned external research into the issues created by current housing trends and their effects on historic places.
This includes research on the tools and methodologies available to local planning authorities, developers and house-builders to successfully integrate new developments to take account of a place's existing historic character.
A separate report looks at how local authorities have integrated heritage considerations in their planning policy frameworks and how successful they have been in accommodating new housing development as a result.
Problems of housing supply and affordability have been particularly acute in rural areas. Historic England has published guidance to help development schemes in rural areas that complement and enhance the historic character of market towns, villages and hamlets.
Existing historic housing
There are almost 10,000 conservation areas across England designated for their special architectural interest, many of which cover residential areas.
We have produced advice covering best practice in managing and appraising conservation areas, how to guide change within them and explaining how they are designated.
Advice Note 1 - this revised guidance sets out ways to manage change in a way that conserves and enhances historic areas through conservation area designation, appraisal and management.Learn more
Managing change to your home
Historic England also provides a range of advice on managing Your Home if you live in a historic building, whether it is listed or not, in a conservation area or simply old.
It offers advice on how best to maintain your home, what to consider if you want to make changes – including what permission and consent you might need – as well as how to make it more energy efficient.
The National Heritage List for England can tell you if your home is listed.
Historic England also provides detailed advice on: