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Keep it London - Putting heritage at the heart of London’s future

New report and studies commissioned by Historic England

The Mayor of London is currently reviewing the London Plan, a strategic, city-wide plan that will shape the capital and its historic environment over the next 20 years.

To inform our recommendations for the London Plan, Historic England commissioned the independent strategic reports listed below. Findings from all three reports were presented to an expert panel representing planning, heritage and property development and used as a basis to debate the strategic issues for the management of the historic environment in London. Read our recommendations in Keep it London - Putting heritage at the heart of London's future.

Image of St Pauls' Cathedral from King Henry's Mound in Richmond Park. A development in Stratford can now be seen behind the Cathedral's dome
St Pauls' Cathedral from King Henry's Mound in Richmond Park. A development in Stratford can now be seen behind the Cathedral's dome © Chris Redgrave/Historic England

Independent reports considered by the panel

The reports are technical but would interest everyone who wants to see the continued conservation and celebration of London's heritage.

Have your say on the findings - email

Other studies are being considered to further reinforce our understanding of the issues for London's heritage in this time of unprecedented change.

Sign up for updates on our Keep it London campaign

New Heritage at Risk Register 2016

We're delighted to have removed 32 entries from the Heritage at Risk Register this year. These successes bring to life the history of each site, as well as the stories of those who have worked tirelessly to rescue them.

One such story is the campaign to save Wilton's Music Hall, which started in the 1960s when the building faced demolition. Sir John Betjeman and Spike Milligan are just two of the well-known figures to have supported the campaign. Half a century later Wilton's has reopened to the public, thanks to the Wilton's Music Hall Trust and a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The grade II* listed building has been removed from the Heritage at Risk Register this year.

Exterior of Wilton’s Music Hall with large lantern light above the door
Wilton’s Music Hall in Tower Hamlets, the oldest pub music hall in the world, has been removed from the Heritage at Risk Register for London and is once again open to entertain the crowds

Our successes also showcase some of London's best 20th century heritage. Poplar Baths in Tower Hamlets, for example, dates from 1932 with all the hallmarks of a grand Art Deco building. Twenty eight years after the building closed, the baths have been lovingly restored and the doors are once again open to the local community.

This year we've invested considerably in some of London's most important public parks. The grade II listed sphinxes in Crystal Palace Park have been carefully conserved, with a grant of £116,000 from Historic England. Their transformation included a coat of terracotta red paint, reinstating the original mid-19th century colouring. At Gunnersbury Park our funding is helping to conserve the 'Gothic' ruins and grotto. These are just two of many romantic follies in the grade II* registered landscape, once home to the Rothschild family. Both of these parks are well on their way to being removed from the Heritage at Risk Register.

Despite these successes our historic environment in London is still vulnerable. A total of 45 entries have been added to the Heritage at Risk Register this year - from the tomb of a champion sculler in Brompton Cemetery, to a large Victorian church designed by George Gilbert Scott in Ealing. Most notable, however, is the addition of 11 conservation areas, reflecting the growing development pressures London continues to face.

Finding solutions to these sites is a priority for us in London. It will require the imagination and support of all our partners, including volunteers, local authority staff, private owners and commercial developers. The continued generosity of funding bodies, both big and small, will also be critical. We look forward to tackling these challenges in the year ahead.

Better evidence and tools for planning in Archeological Priority Areas

The Greater London Archaeological Advisory Service has published new guidelines for London’s Archaeological Priority Areas (APAs). These new guidelines will provide a consistent, and up to date, framework for documenting archaeological interest in London.

The introduction of a ‘tiered’system will help both London boroughs, and developers, distinguish between significant areas and areas which, although still of interest, are not quite so sensitive to change.

A comprehensive borough by borough review of APAs in London began in 2013, and is progressing well, by the end of 2016, one-third of London Boroughs will have had their APAs modernised. The aim is for every APA in London to have an up to date description and statement of significance.

Excavation of 17th century river wall and stairs at Arundel Great Court, Westminster
Excavation of 17th century river wall and stairs at Arundel Great Court, Westminster © Maggie Cox/ Museum of London Archaeology

Work is well underway at Abney Park Cemetery

The repair of the Grade II listed Mortuary Chapel at Abney Park Cemetery is well underway, thanks to a grant of £201,500 from Historic England.

Abney is one of London's 'Magnificent Seven' cemeteries, opened in the mid-19th Century to provide much needed burial space for a growing city.

Abney was landscaped and planted by George Loddiges. The result was a beautifully designed arboretum cemetery, with over 2,500 varieties, as well as 1,029 varieties of rose. At the heart of the landscape is the Mortuary Chapel, designed by William Hosking in a striking Gothic Revival style. The chapel's condition has deteriorated significantly after years of under-investment and damage by fire. It was added to our Heritage at Risk Register in 1992.

We're delighted to be supporting a first phase of repairs to the chapel, together with Hackney Council. If you visit the cemetery this summer you'll see an impressive scaffold shrouding the building and repairs to the spire, roof and high level stonework well underway. The project will ensure that the chapel is structurally safe and weather-tight, whilst options for its future use are explored.

Do keep track of progress at Abney by following us on Twitter @HE_LondonAdvice.

Mortuary Chapel at Abney Park Cemetery
Mortuary Chapel at Abney Park Cemetery
Conservation Bulletin 75

Conservation Bulletin 75

Published 16 March 2016

London is growing at an unprecedented rate. This edition looks at the issues this growth throws up, their effects on the historic environment and how the planning system (and specifically the London Plan) can address them.

Uncover the hidden stories behind London’s heritage

Across the country Historic England is crowdsourcing knowledge and photographs for the official list of the nation's 400,000 most significant historic places. This is the first time in history the list has been opened up for public contributions and your chance to get involved.

Here in London we are asking you to share your images and information to discover the hidden history of this great city. To help inspire you:

  • Kensal Green Cemetery, London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, just one of the 'Magnificent Seven' cemeteries in London, has a number of individual monuments and structures on the Heritage at Risk Register. Perhaps not so well known are the number of circus performers who are buried at Kensal Green such as Alfred Cooke (Grade II) and Andrew Ducrow (Grade II*). There are many other listed monuments at Kensal Green, and in other 'Magnificent Seven' cemeteries, and we'd love to hear your stories about these too!
  • London has its equal share of grand houses and country estates, with all their associated buildings, structures and landscapes, many of which were listed years ago. Gunnersbury Park House (Grade II*) in the London Borough of Hounslow, is just one example, with numerous associated buildings, such as the East Lodge (Grade II) and the Gothic ruins (Grade II).
  • You may also be surprised to know some world famous sites in London, such as the British Museum (Grade I) and The Monument (Grade I) have very old list descriptions, so take a look at The List and help write your story of London.

Some 99% of people in England live within a mile of a listed building or place and you can discover your nearest by searching the list using a postcode. With around 18,936 listed buildings and 309 other places on the List in London, one is bound to be near you! By sharing your photos, old or new, and by telling the story of the people and events which have shaped the places we live in, you'll be part of a growing community of people getting involved in their local heritage.

Once you've added your information please let us know. You can share your entries with us on Twitter @HE_LondonAdvice where you can also keep up to date with all the latest news and pictures from the region.

Enriching the List postcard containing text:
Share your knowledge and photos of places on The List near you. There are 400,000 historic places on the National Heritage List for England. You can now add to it through Enriching the List © Historic England

Find out how we're helping to bring the Crystal Palace sphinxes back to life

A grant of £116,000 from Historic England is helping to conserve six sphinxes in Crystal Palace Park. The majestic Grade II listed sculptures are a remnant of Sir Joseph Paxton's parkland setting for the Crystal Palace, which moved from Hyde Park to Sydenham in 1852.

The sphinxes are a much-loved feature of the park, but following a devastating fire in 1936 which razed the Palace to the ground, their condition has deteriorated. In places the brick core of the sculptures is exposed, saplings have taken root in surface cracks and their stucco finish has discoloured after years of exposure. The sphinxes were added to our Heritage at Risk Register in 1995.

Sphinx sculpture surrounded by scaffolding
© Historic England

Thanks to joint funding from Historic England, the Mayor of London and the London Borough of Bromley, work to conserve all six sphinxes is now underway. If you visit the park over the summer, you'll see their transformation first-hand - you can watch them being cleaned and their stucco surfaces being repaired.

To complete their transformation the sphinxes will be painted a Victorian terracotta red. Not only will the paint provide the sculptures with an important protective coat, but it will reinstate their original mid-19th century colouring and help bring to life their story as 'gatekeepers' to the famous Crystal Palace.

To keep up to date with progress on the sphinxes, follow us on Twitter @HE_LondonAdvice.

Sphinx being painted
© Historic England

Training opportunities coming up in London

Historic Environment Local Management

Historic England runs Historic Environment Local Management (HELM) Training courses which are free to attend for Local Authority, regional and national organisation's staff.

Listed below are the latest training opportunities in London.

  • An Introduction to Archaeology for Planners
    This course will introduce planners in local authorities to how we understand, protect and manage the historic environment.
    Thursday 8 December 2016
  • Conservation Area Management
    Learn about the important role of a conservation area survey, and how it can be used to underpin management priorities at a local level.
    Thursday 19 January 2017

For more information please contact the training delivery team on

Follow us on Twitter @HE_LondonAdvice to keep up to date with all the latest training opportunities, news and pictures from the region.

HELM training event on faith groups using historic buildings
We provide bespoke training on a range of historic environment topics, here a group are learning about the re-use of historic buildings © AraPhotographyUK
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