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Selection Criteria

There are a number of ways we can protect heritage assets to make sure they are passed onto future generations for their enjoyment. One way is by legal protection through national designation: all assets which have this appear on the National Heritage List for England (NHLE). Here you can find links to the legislation behind the criteria we use to select which sites should be designated and added to the List, as well as our specific selection guides.  


Municipal Water Tower (Jumbo), Colchester, Essex. Listed at Grade II*.
Municipal Water Tower (Jumbo), Colchester, Essex. Listed at Grade II*. © Brian Martin

Criteria for the designation of different types of heritage assets - buildings, archaeological sites, designed landscapes, battlefields, and ships and boats - are included within separate pieces of legislation. You can find slightly greater detail on the criteria for listing buildings and scheduling archaeological sites in:


 - both produced by the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS).

The selection guides

As the Government's principal adviser on the historic environment, we have produced a suite of supplementary guidance to explain our approach to designation. There are currently 44 selection guides covering the full range of heritage asset types. Of these:

Each of these guides gives a brief overview of current understanding before moving on to set out asset-specific designation criteria. Historic England will re-issue all of the guides next year, and although we do not anticipate making substantive changes, we would be interested to hear from readers if they have any comments. Please contact 

The Grade I registered landscape at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire.
The Grade I registered landscape at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire.

Introductions to Heritage Assets

Supporting the Selection Guides we also have a growing series of Introductions to Heritage Assets (IHAs). Each provides a brief, up-to-date, factual overview of our understanding of a particular heritage asset type:

On 1 April 2015 the part of English Heritage represented on this website changed its name to Historic England. You may notice that some of our content still refers to English Heritage. We are in the process of rebranding, but in the meantime please be assured that all our content and guidance is still current.

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