Image of Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall, designed 1745-48 by William Kent, built 1750-59 by John Vardy. The domed clock tower and lantern replicates a feature of the earlier horse guards on the same site.
Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall, designed 1745-48 by William Kent, built 1750-59 by John Vardy. The domed clock tower and lantern replicates a feature of the earlier horse guards on the same site. © Historic England N040011
Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall, designed 1745-48 by William Kent, built 1750-59 by John Vardy. The domed clock tower and lantern replicates a feature of the earlier horse guards on the same site. © Historic England N040011

Government Historic Estates Unit

This page introduces the Government Historic Estates Unit (GHEU) and its work advising government departments and other public bodies about how to look after the historic buildings in their care.

The government owns and looks after a large estate of historic listed buildings and scheduled monuments across the country, which includes some of our most important and treasured historic sites.

The buildings and places within the government’s estate range from the Palace of Westminster in London to buried archaeology in forests and rural areas. It also includes places protected as conservation areas, registered parks and gardens, battlefields, wreck sites and World Heritage Sites.

On this page:

Who we are and what we do

The Government Historic Estates Unit (GHEU) is a small, dedicated team which helps government departments and other public bodies, such as the Royal Household, to look after the historic buildings and structures in their care.

Many of these sites are working offices and palaces, which require constant maintenance and attention, but also need to meet modern working and living standards.

Planning advice

We advise on planning cases for specific listed buildings and scheduled monuments owned by the government in London and Windsor.

These include the Occupied Royal Palaces, from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle, and certain government buildings in London, such as the Palace of Westminster, the Foreign Office and the Royal Courts of Justice.

We work collaboratively with government departments, offering expert advice at all stages of the planning process in order to help look after and enhance the historic buildings in their care.

As a team, we:

  • Give detailed informal advice at an early stage on proposals to develop or change government-owned historic buildings and maintain active discussions throughout the application process
  • Advise on proposals where there are issues of national security
  • Give technical advice on repair and conservation projects, including on selecting specialist conservation consultants and drafting conservation management plans- a key tool in understanding and conserving historic estates
  • Monitor the condition of heritage at risk and work with departments to find solutions for our most precious heritage

Information and guidance

We also monitor the condition of the government’s historic estate and produce conservation guidance for government departments and other public bodies.

Our guidance and reports:

Contact

Government Historic Estates Unit

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