4: Surveys & Historic Environment


English Heritage and Buildings at Risk

English Heritage has been publishing a national Heritage at Risk Register since 2008. Buildings, of Grade I or II* (as well as Grade II in London), Conservation Areas and Places of Worship can all be designated as being ‘At Risk’ as well as Scheduled monuments, Registered Battlefields and Registered Parks and Gardens. Local authorities keep lists of Grade II buildings that are ‘at risk’ in their areas. Less relevent for Peterborough, Scheduled Wrecks can also be designated as ‘At Risk’. The full list can be found here.

Buildings can become ‘at risk’ and ‘in need’ for many reasons, but some of the most common are:

  • Lack of Maintenance leading to the building becoming run down
  • Vacancy: if no-one is there to keep an eye on a building problems may go unnoticed for too long
  • Location: it may be in an area that has become run-down, or in which the use has changed and it is no longer a good building for the business it was designed for.

Surveying as part of this project

In order to do a visual survey of a building for this project the following is a rough idea of what to do. For the full information click the Survey tab above. You should start with a ‘desk based’ survey, which is looking up information on the property to discover if it is listed, scheduled or locally listed.

Is it listed?

To establish if the building is listed and the grade use Peterborough Hawkeye. Clicking here should open a separate window.

To use Hawkeye simply zoom to the location required, if you do not know the address, or enter the address in the search box (top right, between ‘layers’ and ‘nearest’).

Once you have a location in the central box you can either see it as a Street View, Ordnance Survey map, or an aerial view. This would be good to have as a print out to allow you to find the property on the ground.

To find out if the building is listed click on ‘Built Environment’ on the right hand side, and check the box for ‘ListedBuildings’ and ‘Conservation Areas’.

Then click ‘Display on Map’. This will show you if the property is in the city centre conservation area or not, and if it is red and you hover the cursor over it it will show you the name and listing grade. If the building is not listed it is still of interest in the city centre, it does not matter for this survey whether you survey a listed building or not!

Listed buildings make up about 2% of all buildings inEngland. There are three grades of listing:

Grade I – a building of exceptional interest, only about 2.5% of all listed buildings are Grade I

Grade II* – very important and of more than special interest, 5.5% of listed buildings are of this grade

Grade II – buildings of special interest – these make up around 92% of listed buildings

There are also some ‘Local List’ Buildings in the Peterborough area. This complete list can be found here. (PDF)

Period of Building

Most of the buildings in Peterborough City Centre date from the Georgian Period or later, with a few timber frame buildings and noticeably the Cathedral Precincts, being older.

Once you have done your desk based survey you will need to answer the following whilst on site.

Is the property occupied?

Answer either YES on all floors, NO if it is unoccupied, UNKNOWN if you cannot tell EMPTY UPSTAIRS if it seems to be unused on the upper floors. Tick FOR SALE if there is a sale board.

Current Use

Is it a shop, cafe, estate agents? Please fill in the main use and function of the building here.

Evidence of previous use?

Is there any evidence it was used as something else? For example the Drapers Arms was once a Drapers shop. If you do not know leave this answer blank.


Do they look sound? Are they boarded? There may be unpainted frames and signs of decaying or rotting woodwork, or signs of cracking.

Roof Condition

Are there missing slates or tiles? Is the roof line straight or bowing? Note this in the other section if this is the case.

What kind of condition are the walls visible from the public footpath in?

There may be evidence of damage through missing stonework/ bricks, missing mortar, inappropriate repairs, cracks of all sizes, damp, staining or vandalism

Guttering and downpipes

Do they seem blocked, is there evidence for water running down the sides of buildings, such as patches of green or plaster damage? Is there evidence of plant growth in the tops of gutters.

General Condition? Is it:

  • very bad (structural failure or signs of structural instability)
  • poor (building with deteriorating masonry, leaking roofs, usually accompanied by general deterioration of most elements of the building fabric)
  • fair (structurally sound but in need of minor repairs or showing signs of lack of general maintenance
  • good condition (structurally sound and weather-tight

For each property a digital photo will also be required. For each building take a picture of the front elevation (the section of the building facing the street) and any details you feel are of particular interest. About 4 pictures per building at a maximum should be about right. If you require a digital camera letAliceknow and once can be borrowed.

Downloads and Further information

Understanding Historic Buildings, English Heritage – Can be downloaded in 3 parts here.

A guide to good recording practice.

Measured and Drawn, English Heritage – Free Download as PDF

Measured and Drawn sets out to show how, through working closely with historians, conservators and archaeologists, optimum documentation can be achieved by metric survey. It explains how the balance between precision, cost and time when applying metric technologies to heritage documentation can be achieved by choosing an appropriate method and making sure project information requirements are understood by all from the start.

Metric Survey Specifications for Cultural Heritage, English Heritage, can be downloaded in two sections here.

Highly technical guide to specifications for historic buildings.

Surveying Timber Framed Buildings, Oxley Conservation (PDF)


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