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What is a heritage survey?

Updated: Jul 6

A heritage survey, also known as a historic building survey, is a systematic process of identifying, documenting, and assessing the historical, cultural, architectural, and archaeological significance of places, structures, objects, or landscapes. This type of Heriatge Survey is usually undertaken by a Heritage Consultant, also known as a Heriatge Surveyor. These surveys are typically conducted to:




Preserve Cultural and Historical Resources:

Heritage surveys aim to identify and protect elements of a community's cultural and historical heritage. This includes historic buildings, landmarks, archaeological sites, artefacts, and natural landscapes with cultural significance.


Inform Planning and Development:

Local governments, preservation organisations, and planners often use heritage surveys to inform land-use planning and development decisions. By identifying and documenting significant heritage resources, they can make informed choices about how to accommodate new development while preserving the past. Typically these are Heritage Statements or Statements of Significance.

Support Heritage Conservation:

Heritage surveys play a crucial role in heritage conservation efforts. They provide the data needed to prioritize and target resources for the preservation, restoration, or adaptive reuse of historically and culturally important sites and structures. Quite often a legal requirement for certain types of development or alterations to heritage sites. This ensures that developers and property owners consider the impact of their actions on heritage resources. The Local Planning Authority may approve planning permission with a Condition to complete a Historic Building Record, depending on the significance of the site this will vary from Level 1 - 4, 4 being the most in-depth, a Level 2 being the most common.


Raise Awareness and Educate:

Heritage surveys often contribute to public awareness and education about a community's history and cultural identity. By documenting and sharing information about heritage resources, communities can celebrate their heritage and promote a sense of identity and pride. This can be in the form of Local listing and conservation areas, this is part of the methodology for the Local Planning Authority outlined in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.


Pre-purchase survey - Historic Building Survey

A pre-purchase historic building survey is a specialised type of survey conducted before the purchase of a historic or listed building. The survey generally follows the format of a Level 3 Survey but is conducted by a heritage surveyor and provides a detailed assessment of the property's condition, identifying any issues that may affect its structural integrity, historical significance, and future maintenance requirements. The survey aims to inform potential buyers about the building's current state, necessary repairs, and compliance with heritage conservation regulations.



 

The process of conducting a Heritage Survey typically involves the following

Steps, if a Heritage Statement is required:


1. Research and Background Study: Gathering historical documents, maps, photographs, and other relevant information to understand the area's history and potential heritage resources.


2. Field Survey: Visiting the study area to physically inspect and document the heritage resources. This may involve taking photographs, making sketches, and recording detailed descriptions.


3. Documentation: Compiling detailed reports and records about the identified heritage resources. This includes historical information, architectural details, significance assessments, and recommendations for preservation or conservation.


4. Assessment of Significance: Evaluating the historical, cultural, architectural, and archaeological significance of each resource. This often involves applying Historic England's established criteria or guidelines.


5. Recommendations: Based on the assessment, the survey report may include recommendations for preservation, restoration, adaptive reuse, or other measures to protect and manage the heritage resources.


 

Heritage surveys are essential tools for safeguarding a community's cultural and historical heritage and ensuring that future generations can appreciate and learn from the past. They help strike a balance between development and heritage preservation, fostering a sense of continuity and identity.


AMS SURVEYS can support you throughout the process of ownership. We conduct pre-purchase surveys, condition and repair surveys, Architectural Design and Planning services, and Project Management for Heritage clients across the North of England. To arrange a free no-obligation consultation Contact us.


 

Frequently Asked Questions: What is a Heritage Survey?


1. What is a heritage survey?


A heritage survey, also known as a historic survey or heritage statement, is a systematic process of identifying, documenting, and assessing the historical, cultural, architectural, and archaeological significance of places, structures, objects, or landscapes. These surveys help in preserving and managing heritage resources for future generations.


2. Why are heritage surveys important?


Heritage surveys are crucial for preserving cultural and historical resources, informing planning and development decisions, supporting heritage conservation efforts, and raising public awareness about a community's history and cultural identity. They ensure that historically significant sites are protected and properly maintained.


3. What are the key components of a heritage survey?


The key components of a heritage survey include:


  • Research and Background Study: Gathering historical documents, maps, and photographs to understand the area's history and potential heritage resources.

  • Field Survey: Physically inspecting and documenting heritage resources through photographs, sketches, and detailed descriptions.

  • Documentation: Compiling detailed reports about the identified heritage resources, including historical information and significance assessments.

  • Assessment of Significance: Evaluating the historical, cultural, architectural, and archaeological significance of each resource.

  • Recommendations: Providing recommendations for preservation, restoration, or adaptive reuse based on the assessment.


4. Who conducts heritage surveys?


Heritage surveys are typically conducted by qualified professionals with expertise in heritage conservation, architecture, and archaeology, such as Chartered Building Surveyors. Organisations like AMS SURVEYS specialise in conducting these surveys to ensure accurate documentation and assessment of heritage resources.


5. How can heritage surveys inform planning and development?


Heritage surveys provide valuable data that helps local governments, preservation organizations, and planners make informed land-use and development decisions. By identifying and documenting significant heritage resources, they can balance new development with the preservation of historical sites, ensuring that the community's cultural heritage is maintained.


6. Are heritage surveys legally required?


In many cases, heritage surveys are legally required for certain types of development or alterations to heritage sites. Local planning authorities may mandate these surveys to ensure that any changes to heritage properties are carried out in a way that respects their historical significance.


7. How do heritage surveys support heritage conservation?


Heritage surveys play a crucial role in heritage conservation by providing the data needed to prioritize and target resources for the preservation, restoration, or adaptive reuse of historically and culturally important sites and structures. They help guide conservation efforts to protect heritage resources effectively.


8. What are the benefits of a heritage survey for property owners?


Property owners benefit from heritage surveys by gaining detailed knowledge about their property's historical significance, receiving guidance for proper maintenance and conservation, and ensuring compliance with legal requirements for any planned changes or developments.


9. How can AMS SURVEYS help with heritage surveys?


AMS SURVEYS offers comprehensive heritage survey services, including pre-purchase surveys, condition and repair surveys, architectural design and planning services, and project management for heritage clients. Their expertise ensures accurate documentation and effective conservation of heritage properties across the North of England.


10. How can I arrange a heritage survey with AMS SURVEYS?


To arrange a heritage survey or a free, no-obligation consultation, contact AMS SURVEYS. Their team of experts is ready to assist you with preserving and managing your heritage property.


 

By understanding the importance and process of heritage surveys, communities and property owners can take proactive steps to protect and celebrate their cultural and historical heritage. AMS SURVEYS is here to help with all your heritage survey needs. Contact us today for professional and reliable service.









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