What You Need to Know About Non-Designated Heritage Assets in 2024

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    Introduction to Non-Designated Heritage Assets

    Have you ever admired an older building in your neighbourhood and wondered about its story? It might be more historically significant than you think. While famous landmarks and Listed Buildings often take centre stage, there’s a whole category of lesser-known heritage assets waiting to be explored: Non-Designated Heritage Assets.

    Non-Designated Heritage Assets are buildings that hold immense value to their local communities but, for one reason or another, don’t qualify for listed status. We all know that Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas are protected by strict regulations that safeguard their unique character, but the countless important buildings that don’t qualify for these designations can be just as important.

    In this blog, we will explore what ‘Non-Designated Heritage Asset’ truly means and how owning one impacts your architectural journey.

    A Change in Perspective

    The late 20th century saw a shift in focus. We moved away from preserving only the cream of the crop and started celebrating more of the everyday heritage around us. As a result of this, local buildings with stories etched into their very walls became just as important as their grander listed counterparts.

    Recognising this change, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) formally acknowledged Non-Designated Heritage Assets in 2012.

    What Qualifies as a Non-Designated Heritage Asset?

    This is where it gets confusing as there is no single definition of a Non-Designated Heritage Asset. However, Annex 2 of the NPPF does provide some clues. It is stated that a heritage asset is: “A building, monument, site, place, area or landscape identified as having a degree of significance meriting consideration in planning decisions, because of its heritage interest.” This can be either a Designated Heritage Asset (such as a Listed Building, World Heritage Site, or Scheduled Monument), or a Non-Designated Heritage Asset identified by the local planning authority, which includes ‘locally listed’ assets.

    Interestingly, you might unknowingly own a Non-Designated Heritage Asset. While local authorities often maintain lists, an absence from one doesn’t disqualify a building’s significance. Therefore, it’s always best to check before you carry out any work as planning permission for alterations, extensions, and demolition work is often required.

    An image of the Heritage Gateway website's search page.

    How to Find Out if Your Building is a Non-Designated Heritage Asset

    Unfortunately, there’s no one-stop answer. Some local authorities have lists, but many don’t. Your best bet is to consult your local Historic Environment Record. For Cornwall, it can be found on Cornwall Council’s Interactive Mapping site.

    If that doesn’t reveal any results, you should next check the Heritage Gateway. Type your area into the ‘Find on Map’ box, run the search, and then click ‘View Results on a Map’ to zoom in on your property’s location. Depending on the information contained on the site, and whether the building is mentioned elsewhere (for example, if it’s listed as a key building in a Conservation Area), you may be dealing with a Non-Designated Heritage Asset.

    Living with a Non-Designated Heritage Asset

    If your building is classified as a Non-Designated Heritage Asset, don’t panic. It just means you may need a different approach for alterations or renovations.

    Your first port of call should be to consult a heritage professional. These individuals are well-versed in the ins and outs of Non-Designated Heritage Assets, and will be able to advise you on the best steps to take in your particular situation.

    Protections for Non-Designated Heritage Assets

    While the national policy states that the impact of Non-Designated Heritage Assets should be “taken into account”, local planning policies vary greatly. Historic England’s Booklet ‘Local Heritage Listing‘ offers supplementary guidance, but interpretation can differ. In addition, some areas have specific guidelines, while others leave it to the Conservation Officer’s discretion. All of this perpetuates inconsistencies in the way these assets are assessed, creating a situation where decisions vary depending on the local authority.

    It is therefore important that you engage with local professionals who understand the way their planning authority handles Non-Designated Heritage Assets.


    While the regulations around Non-Designated Heritage Assets aren’t as strict as with Designated Heritage Assets, the guidance around them is inconclusive, and decisions are inconsistent. Even finding out if your property is a Non-Designated Heritage Asset can be difficult.

    We’re Here to Help

    If you’re unsure about your building’s history or how to develop it sensitively, Rowett Architecture can help! We offer expert advice on identifying, managing, and developing Non-Designated Heritage Assets in a way that respects their significance. Contact us today to discuss your project, or simply for some expert advice.

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