Conservation & Listed Buildings

"These old buildings do not belong to us only...they are not our property, to do as we like with. We are only trustees for those that come after us"                                                                                                         (William Morris, 1889)

The District's heritage is a finite resource, which once lost is impossible to replace.

The Council's Conservation Officer can provide specialist advice on the built environment. It is the responsibility of the Conservation Officer to secure the preservation and enhancement of East Cambridgeshire's rich heritage.

The Conservation Officer is responsible for:

  • Giving advice on the repair and maintenance of historic buildings;
  • Giving advice on the reuse of redundant buildings;
  • Giving design advice to the Development Management Team;
  • Working with owners of buildings at risk;
  • Preparing proposals for Conservation Area designations and producing Conservation Area Appraisals;
  • Producing and contributing to guidance and policy affect the built environment.

N.B. There is no charge for general advice from the Conservation Officer who can be contacted using the following details:

East Cambridgeshire District Council
The Grange
Nutholt Lane
Ely, CB7 4EE

t: 01353 665555

Please note: For non-urgent enquiries, a written or verbal response can be expected within 21 days.

Conservation Areas in East Cambridgeshire

Maps of the Conservation Areas in East Cambridgeshire are available below (please note due to file sizes the Ely and Soham maps are not of high quality detail):

Article 4 Directions

Under the General Permitted Development Order, planning permission is not required for changing windows, doors and frontages within Conservation Areas. Such minor alterations can cumulatively have a marked and detrimental impact on the character and appearance of a Conservation Area.

Article 4 Directions give the Local Planning Authority the option of introducing specified additional planning controls. When implemented, they withdraw certain permitted development rights, as set out in the Direction, in respect of the dwellings identified.

These Directions only apply to houses, not flats or commercial units and they only affect the main elevation(s) fronting a public highway or open space.

N.B.. The Directions cannot be applied retrospectively to development completed before they were implemented.

What does it mean for me...?

Once an Article 4 Direction has been made, planning permission is required for any works set out in the Direction. The most common works included are:

  • Changing windows and doors;
  • Creating a new driveway;
  • Altering boundary treatments;
  • Extensions;
  • Changes to roofs - i.e.. installation of dormers and roof lights;
  • Painting or rendering a building;
  • Building a porch.

Repairs and maintenance do not generally require permission, however the replacement and/or works to existing boundary treatments are often an exception to this (It is advisable to check with the Local Planning Authority). There is no fee for any application required as a result of an Article 4 Direction.

The leaflet below explains more about Article 4 Directions and what they mean for homeowners.

Article 4 Directions in East Cambridgeshire

East Cambridgeshire District Council currently has Article 4 Directions in four of its Conservation Areas: Burwell (x2), Ely and Soham. Copies of the full notices, listing all affected properties, are available to view or download below.

Buildings at Risk

"A historic building, at risk through neglect or decay"                                                                                (English Heritage)

The term 'Building at Risk' can refer to any building or structure, but is generally used to describe a Listed Building or Buildings within a Conservation Areas.

East Cambridgeshire District Council is responsible for approximately 1,200 entries on the Statutory Register or Buildings or Historic or Architectural Significance. Whilst the majority are in good condition, there are some that have fallen into disuse, dereliction and disrepair.

What happens if a Listed Building becomes at risk?

Not all Listed Buildings receive adequate or appropriate maintenance and repair. The Council has the legal power to serve notices on the owners of neglected buildings, to required that works be carried out to prevent further decay.

  • Urgent Works Notice - Restricted to emergency repairs only, for example, works to ensure a building remains weather tight and secure.
  • Repairs Notice - may be served in order to preserve architectural or historic features. It cannot be used to improve a building beyond its condition at the time of listing.

These powers are very much a last resort and the Council will exhaust all other avenues before implementing such actions.

Is there any help available?

The Council has allocated a small pot of money to help owners of Listed Buildings that feature on the At Risk Register. If you believe your building is on the register please contact the Conservation Officer to see if any assistance is available.

How do I report a building at risk?

If you are concerned at all about the condition of any historic building within the District, you can report it to the Conservation Officer by phone, letter or email.

Listed Buildings

Listed Buildings are buildings or structures considered to be of special architectural or historic interest and are designated by the Secretary of State.

There are three classifications of Listed Buildings: Grade I, Grade II* and Grade II. Grades I and II* are buildings of outstanding architectural or historic interest, Grade II are of significant interest and make up the majority of Listed Building in the UK.

When a building is listed, it is the entire building that is included, not just those features referred to in the description. The listing generally covers:

  • The whole building including its interior, exterior, walls, floors and fixed features such as doors, windows, staircases, plaster work and fireplaces;
  • Any object or structure physically attached to it, such as a garden wall or extension;
  • Any freestanding building built within the curtilage that was erected before 1 July 1948, such as outbuildings, barns, garden structures and walls.

What needs consent...?

You are required to apply for Listed Building Consent if you intend to carry out any internal or external alterations to a Listed Building or Structure. Planning Permission and/or Building Regulation Approval may also be required (check with the Local Planning Authority).

Normally repairs and maintenance will not require consent when they are carried out on an exact like-for-like basis, using traditional materials. However, if the repair involves a large amount of replacement or alteration, even if desirable, the works may require consent (the most common example of this is undertaking repairs to timber-frames)

Changes to kitchen or bathroom fittings do not normally require consent. If undertaking works such as plumbing and wiring you should speak first to the Conservation Officer as consent may be required, depending on the amount of historic fabric being lost/damaged.

The introduction of damp treatments always requires Listed Building Consent and should only be considered after all other options have been exhausted. If you have a damp problem in your historic building, please seek advise from the Conservation Officer prior to undertaking any works or surveys.

The difference between repair and alteration can often be difficult to determine and it is always advisable to check with the Conservation Officer before undertaking any works to a Listed Building. The guidance leaflet below gives some basic information about owning a Listed Building.

Applying for Consent

You can apply for Listed Building Consent online using the Planning Portal or you can download the application forms and guidance notes from this website.

It may be useful to contact the Conservation Officer to discuss your proposals prior to submitting an application, as this may help to avoid any unnecessary works or delays. It may also be prudent to employ an architect who is experienced in working with historic buildings, especially when the works are complicated.

N.B.. It is a criminal offense to carry out works to a Listed Building without first obtaining the necessary consents from the Local Planning Authority.

How can I find out if a property is Listed?

The online Listed Building search can be used to check if a property is listed or to find out its grade and a brief description. English Heritage also provides an online search facility for all designated heritage assets (please note that changes to buildings names and numbers are not shown).

It is important to note that the listing may only identify the principal building, however as detailed above, the legislation provides statutory protection for many buildings and structures within the curtilage.

N.B.. As a result of continual changes to the register, at times the information on our database may not be comprehensive. If you are unsure or cannot find a property, you can check with the Conservation Officer.