Heritage & Conservation

"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)

Ancient Monuments

Article 4 Directions

Buildings of Local Interest

Buildings at Risk

Useful Guidance

Conservation Areas

Historic Parks & Gardens

Listed Buildings

War Memorials

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 historic built environment. It is their responsibility to secure the preservation and enhancement of East Cambridgeshire's rich and diverse heritage. They are responsible for the following:

  • giving advice on the repair and maintenance of historic buildings;
  • giving advice on the reuse of redundant buildings;
  • giving design advice to the Planning team and external agents;
  • working with owners of buildings at risk;
  • preparing conservation area appraisals and proposing boundary designations;
  • producing guidance and policy documents to help guide developers and applicants when dealing with the built environment.

N.B.. There is no charge for general advice from the conservation officer who will endeavor to respond to your enquiry within 14 working 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 current planning legislation, permission is not normally required for changing windows, doors and other minor alterations to frontages within Conservation Areas. However, it is recognised that cumulatively, such minor alterations can have a marked and detrimental impact on the character and appearance of a Conservation Area.

Article 4 Directions are a method by which the Local Planning Authority can introduce specified planning controls on certain properties. These directions can be introduced on any property, however they are most commonly found on domestic dwellings located within Conservation Areas. When implemented, they withdraw certain permitted development rights.

What does it mean for me...?

If your property is covered by an Article 4 Direction, you will have been notified by the Council at the time of implementation, it will also be registered with land registry and should appear on any solicitor searches when purchasing.

Once an Article 4 Direction has been confirmed, planning permission is required for any works set out in the Direction. It should be noted that Directions only affect the elevations fronting a public highway or open space.  The most common works covered are:

  • Changing windows and doors (design & materials);
  • Creating a driveway;
  • Altering boundary treatments;
  • Extensions;
  • Changes to roofs – i.e. dormers and roof lights;
  • Painting or rendering a building;
  • Building a porch.

Repairs and maintenance generally do not require planning permission. There is no fee for any application required as a result of an Article 4 Direction.

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.

Buildings at Risk

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

East Cambridgeshire District Council has approximately 1200 entries on the national Listed Building register and 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 notice on the owners of neglected buildings, to require works to be carried out to prevent further decay.

  • Urgent Works Notice – restricted to emergency repairs only, for example, works to ensure a building remains weatherproof 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 will only be implemented after all other means of securing the buildings repair or sale have been exhausted.

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 using the following details:

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

t: 01353 665555 or contact us online

Buildings of Local Interest

There is increasing recognition that built heritage is no limited to solely nationally important buildings/structures. Locally, many buildings, both individually and collectively, add diversity to an areas character.

Many of these reflect local building styles and materials, or the influence of owners, architects and builders whose individual style and characteristics are peculiar to one area. They contribute enormously to ‘local distinctiveness’ and without them the special interest of an area can be greatly diminished.

Why produce a local register?

The Register of Buildings of Local Interest is intended to recognise these buildings/structures so that they can be properly considered when development proposal are submitted that affect them.

Whilst currently there is no legislation for locally listed buildings, the Draft Heritage Bill published in April 2008, recognises the importance of special local interest. Within the National Planning Policy Framework, there is an expectation for LPAs to identify heritage assets of local significance.

What does it mean?

  • Inclusion on the Local Register does not change the existing planning controls that apply to the building/structure already;
  • The Local Register supports efforts to preserve the character and appearance of the buildings/structures that are included on it;
  • It enables the architectural or historic significance of these buildings/structures to be properly considered against development proposal;
  • It provides clarity to owners, the local community, developers and planning officers, so that they are aware of the interest of a building/structure as early as possible;
  • Unless a building/structure is listed or within a conservation area, there is no control, under current legislation, over its demolition;
  • The Local Register backs up existing and emerging planning policy and guidance, adding weight to the consideration already given to the preservation of the historic environment

The Project

The Council is working closely with local communities, through Parish Councils to assist in the production of a Local Register. The purpose of the register is to celebrate local distinctiveness, help safeguard important buildings and ensure that repairs, alterations and extensions are sympathetic.

How will the register be established?

The Council has sought nominations for the Local Register through a period of public consultation. It is then proposed to compile a draft index from survey work and nominations received.

Before any building is included on the draft register the Council will notify owners and/or residents of nominated buildings/structures of its intentions and will consider any representations received about the proposal. Following consultation with owners and/or residents the draft register will be put to the Council’s Development and Transport Committee for adoption as part of a Supplementary Planning Document.

Implications for owners

The Buildings of Local Interest Register identifies buildings and structures so that they can be given protection through the planning process. A building or structure on the Local Register does NOT have any additional statutory protection. However, a local register entry would be a material consideration when determining planning applications to ensure that any change to the building did not harm its special interest. Planning policy encourages the retention and protection of the special character of ‘local register’ buildings. Any external alterations should respect the character of the building. There will be a presumption against the demolition of a ‘Locally Registered’ building or structure.


Listed Buildings

What are 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 Buildings 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 windows, doors, 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 a timber frame building.

Changes to kitchen or bathroom fittings do not normally require Listed Building Consent. Works such as plumbing and wiring may need consent if substantial historic fabric will be lost to accommodate their installation. Existing routes and openings should always be used wherever possible.

The introduction of damp treatments nearly always requires Listed Building Consent and should only be considered after all other options have been exhausted. If you have damp in your historic building, please seek advice 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 advisable to check with the Conservation Officer before commencing works to 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 the Application Form page of this website.

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

N.B. It is a Criminal Offence to carry out works to a Listed Building without first obtaining the necessary consents. Work must NOT start before consent has been granted.

How can I find out if a property is listed?

The National Heritage List for England can be used to search for all designated heritage assets, including Listed Buildings (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 also provides statutory protection for many buildings or structures within the curtilage of a listed building.

If you believe a property to be of sufficient quality to merit listing or believe the information held about your listed building to be incorrect, an application to add to or amend the list can be made by the Conservation Officer on your behalf or through the English Heritage website directly. 

Can I carry out emergency works to a Listed Building?

Emergency works can be carried out without prior consent, providing you can prove the following:

  • That the works were urgently necessary in the interest of public safety or for the preservation of the building;
  • It was not practical to secure public safety or preserve the building by means of temporary repair or shelter;
  • That only the minimum necessary intervention was carried out;
  • That notice, in writing, be submitted to the council as soon as is reasonably possible, justifying in detail the works carried out.

If you find yourself in a situation where you believe such works are necessary you should contact the Conservation Officer immediately, ideally before undertaking any works.