Solar panels surrounded by hedging with a large historic house in the background.
Solar panels in use at Chippenham Hall, Cambridgeshire © Historic England Archive DP440260 Grade II listed
Solar panels in use at Chippenham Hall, Cambridgeshire © Historic England Archive DP440260 Grade II listed

Historic England Consults on New Advice on Climate Change and Historic Building Adaptation

On 13 November, Historic England published draft advice for consultation that aims to provide clear and consistent advice on balancing climate action with building adaptation.

This consultation is now closed. Thank you to those who have responded.

The Historic England Advice Note (HEAN) is primarily aimed at local planning authorities, heritage consultants and those involved in the planning process.

As historic buildings continue to change and evolve, they need to continue to contribute to a greener future and be fit for purpose for the people who live in, experience and care for them. If done thoughtfully and carefully changes to historic buildings can achieve the complementary goals of protecting our heritage and delivering climate action. Keeping historic buildings in use, through sensitive repair, maintenance and adaptation, can help to reduce carbon emissions, reliance on fossil fuels, and energy costs.

Historic England has produced this Advice Note to provide clarity and to support consistent decision-making for proposals to reduce carbon emissions and improve the energy efficiency of historic buildings, whilst conserving their significance and ensuring they remain viable places to live in the future. It reflects current national planning policy.

Whilst this Advice Note will largely be for a specialist audience, it will also be useful to building owners/occupiers once the final version is published.

This Advice Note will provide:

  • Advice on the need for planning permissions or other consents for some of the common changes required to decarbonise and improve the energy efficiency of historic buildings.
  • Advice to assist local planning authorities – and other parties involved in the planning process – in determining proposals to decarbonise and improve the energy efficiency of historic buildings to enable positive climate action. Some typical building adaptations in response to climate change impacts are also included.
  • Advice on how local plans and other planning mechanisms can deliver a positive strategy for historic buildings that proactively supports climate action.
  • Signposting to other relevant information, advice, and guidance.

Key homeowner questions about listed buildings and homes in conservation areas are answered in this Advice Note including clear advice on insulation, boilers and heating systems, heat pumps, draft-proofing, replacing or adapting windows, and installing solar panels. This will dispel some of the myths around actions that can be taken if you live in a listed building or conservation area.

Recent results from Historic England’s Local Authority Staffing Survey (2023, forthcoming) illustrate the urgent need for this Advice Note to assist local planning authorities.

Local authorities with building conservation staff in their organisation were invited to respond to questions on the volume of casework involving energy efficiency retrofit, confidence in decision making, and views on current advice and guidance.

  • 59% of responding local authorities said that the volume of casework involving decisions, advice, or pre-application enquiries about retrofit had increased over the last year.
  • When asked to rate staff confidence in making decisions on energy efficiency retrofit only 16% said they felt very confident.

Historic England will also support local authorities with training on what energy efficiency adaptations are likely to be acceptable.