Heritage Works for Housing: Early Works

Soft-strip and further investigations

Early works ahead of commencing the "main" works can help to reduce risk by providing more programme and cost certainty. There can also be benefits to enabling contracts that are separate from the main contract, such as the main sources of risks being confined to the enabling works package.

Soft strip of items that are considered to be of no heritage significance can reveal hidden elements of the historic building or provide construction programme gain. If not undertaken during feasibility studies, intrusive investigations can help to de-risk a project and contractual negotiations through providing certainty or more details on a particular aspect e.g. structural condition and asbestos.

These works can be agreed with the Local Planning Authority either through an exchange of correspondence or a standalone listed building consent application. Further information can be found in Historic England’s Consents for works to listed buildings.

Case study: St James' Hospital

Developer PJ Livesey
Date of Completion Ongoing
Typology Institutional
Era 1870s
Designation Grade II listed building
Number of homes 209
Location Portsmouth, South East

St James' Hospital is as a scheme that reuses the Grade II listed building to sensitively to provide 151 homes and a sympathetic new build providing 58 homes within the grounds. The building was used as a hospital until the Solent NHS Trust vacated the property in 2018.

PJ Livesey undertook extensive feasibility and viability testing prior to progressing with the planning and listed building consent applications. To assist with the process PJ Livesey established a trusted team of advisors, using a heritage assessment to help guide initial design concept. The design continued to evolve during the planning process, with the impact on the proposals on the significance of the listed building being discussed with key stakeholders. This engagement led to further consideration being required to the contribution of the landscaping to the setting of the listed building and therefore the design and location of the new build elements was amended during the planning and listed building consent determination period.

The trusted team was essential in navigating the process. PJ Livesey de-risked the project through using a technical team who they have trusted relationships and who have a strong track record of delivering on listed buildings of this type and therefore navigating the questions raised by stakeholders during the planning determination period.

After securing planning permission and listed building consent, PJ Livesey undertook early works to further understand the condition of the building and inform the detailed design process prior to main works commencing on site.

Heritage Works for Housing: Process

Previous: Securing Necessary Permissions

Current: Early Works

Next: Implementation

Heritage Works for Housing

Historic England aims to support developers in their journey to reusing historic buildings. This guidance highlights how historic buildings can be reused, repurposed and refurbished to provide residential development. It outlines the process from buying an historic building to long-term occupation and management; and the key challenges and approaches to overcome.

These pages provide case studies of successful reuse of historic buildings into new homes, creating sustainable and dynamic places to live. Historic buildings are a tangible opportunity to address ongoing industry challenges, including the housing requirement whilst minimising carbon impacts.

Managing Change
The Interface of New and Old
Case Study Resources

Historic England engaged Deloitte LLP to assist with the preparation of this Publication / Guidance which uses information provided by Historic England as well as research undertaken by Deloitte to provide guidance on the process for use of historic buildings for residential purposes. Any views, conclusions, insights, and/or recommendations within this Publication / Guidance are Historic England's alone.