Phase 1 of Park Hill showing ‘streets in the sky’ corridor and external view of refurbished building façade. The facade displays the original concrete framing and bold coloured panels next to the windows.
Grade II* listed Park Hill, Sheffield © Urban Splash Read the list entry for Park Hill
Grade II* listed Park Hill, Sheffield © Urban Splash Read the list entry for Park Hill

Heritage Works for Housing

Our built heritage is an important asset and is integral to our social, economic and environmental wellbeing. Reusing and redeveloping our built heritage has the potential to help create dynamic, comforting and sustainable places to live.

'Heritage Works for Housing' sets out how heritage can work for housing. It aims to enable and facilitate the reuse of historic buildings to deliver more homes and better outcomes for all.

It begins by setting out the current development context and priorities. It then provides detailed guidance on the process of transforming a historic building for residential use. This highlights key technical considerations, and references links to other relevant guidance provided by Historic England, who can support each stage of this development process. Case studies are used throughout to illustrate a variety of approaches that have been taken by developers, and exemplify how typical challenges to reuse historic buildings for residential use have been overcome.

Heritage Works for Housing focuses on the process for developing residential uses within and as an extension to listed buildings and non-designated heritage assets (defined as historic buildings which are not listed, but have some historic or architectural interest). Throughout the document the terminology "historic buildings" is used to mean both listed buildings and non-designated heritage assets.

Heritage Works for Housing is intended to be read alongside Heritage Works 2017, It draws upon new research and evidence gathered from across the country and reflects upon the current development context where there is increased pressure to provide more homes.

State of play

This section sets out the current context for the retrofit and reuse of historic buildings for housing.

Need for more housing

In recent years, demand for new housing has consistently outstripped supply in England. As a result, development pressures have grown, which has created new challenges which require adaptability in our approach to accommodate new homes in sensitive and perhaps underutilised locations.

For example, the redundant textile mills of Yorkshire and Lancashire alone could provide 52,000 new homes; emphasising the potential for historic buildings to contribute to the housing supply.

Contribution to net zero carbon

Historic England's There's no place like old homes document highlights that "the greenest building is the one that already exists". Our built historic environment plays a vital role in the journey towards a low carbon future. Reuse, refurbishment, and regular maintenance are increasingly important to extend the life of historic buildings, and thereby capitalise on existing embodied carbon.

Reuse of historic buildings for housing also presents an opportunity to embed low carbon principles into our historic buildings, reduce our carbon footprint whilst preserving the significance of historic buildings for future generations.

Demand for homes in historic buildings

There is a growing demand for housing in historic buildings, which can provide unique and characterful living spaces. There is a rarity factor with these historic buildings which can be translated into premium sale prices.

For example, proximity to a listed building increases property prices by up to c. 10% and by 9% if within a conservation area.

When we have conversion and new build projects side by side, we see that the conversion inquiries outnumber the new building inquiries by a factor of four. Perhaps people like historic buildings as a reminder of the past, of a bygone era when things appeared simpler

Tim Heatley, Founder Capital&Centric

Investing in historic buildings for housing can act as a catalyst for positive change, place-based regeneration and an opportunity to foster civic pride.

Bringing these three strands together, shows there is a clear opportunity for historic buildings to make a meaningful contribution to addressing the housing shortfall and the move towards net zero carbon, all whilst creating places where people want to live.

Heritage Works for Housing

Historic England aims to support developers in their journey to reusing historic buildings. This guidance highlights how historic buildings can be reused, repurposed and refurbished to provide residential development. It outlines the process from buying a historic building to long-term occupation and management; and the key challenges and approaches to overcome.

These pages provide case studies of successful reuse of historic buildings into new homes, creating sustainable and dynamic places to live. Historic buildings are a tangible opportunity to address ongoing industry challenges, including the housing requirement whilst minimising carbon impacts.

Introduction (current page)
Managing Change
The Interface of New and Old
Case Study Resources

Historic England engaged Deloitte LLP to assist with the preparation of this Publication / Guidance which uses information provided by Historic England as well as research undertaken by Deloitte to provide guidance on the process for use of historic buildings for residential purposes. Any views, conclusions, insights, and/or recommendations within this Publication / Guidance are Historic England's alone.