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Historic environment

Conservation Areas

Conservation Areas are areas of special architectural or historic interest, where the character or appearance of the area is preserved or enhanced.  If a property is within a Conservation Area, planning permission may be needed for certain works to buildings and trees, which would not otherwise need permission.

Trees in conservation areas have protection even if they don't have a Tree preservation order (TPO)

Check if a property is in a Conservation Area by viewing the Cambridge City conservation areas list or South Cambridgeshire conservations areas list, or by using the South Cambridgeshire planning search map. If you want to check if the work you are planning requires consent, please read our Conservation Areas page or ask for pre-application advice.

Conservation Area Appraisals describe the character and significance of Conservation Areas and give recommendations for their conservation and enhancement. Management Plans make recommendations for conservation and/or enhancements within the conservation areas.

Conservation Area Appraisals are reviewed periodically, with Draft Conservation Area Appraisals made available on our Conservation Area Appraisal Consultations webpage. We encourage the public to feed in views on our current informal consultations.

Listed buildings

A listed building is any structure considered by the Secretary of State (for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) to be 'of special architectural or historic interest'. 

If a building is listed, there are controls over the changes that can be made to a building's interior and exterior. Listed building consent is required for most types of work that affect the building's special architectural or historic interest and may also be required for any works to buildings within the grounds of a listed building.

A leaflet has been produced to explain listed buildings and the obligations of owning one. 

It is a criminal offence to carry out unauthorised works to a listed building. Our planning enforcement team can take action to prosecute the owner and any other individuals responsible for the works.

To find out if a property is a listed building, please use the South Cambridgeshire planning search map or visit Historic England’s website. If you are unsure whether you require consent for the work you are planning, please ask us for pre-application advice.

We keep a Listed Buildings at Risk Register which includes all known listed buildings considered to be at risk from neglect and lack of maintenance in Greater Cambridge. If you think a building is at risk, please tell us using our online Listed Buildings at Risk Register nomination form.

Buildings of local interest

Buildings of local interest, otherwise known as Non-Designated Heritage Assets, are important either by themselves or as part of a group, although they do not meet the national criteria for statutory listed buildings, which become designated because of their architectural merit and, in some cases, their historical associations.

The list of buildings of local interest is included in the Cambridge Local Plan 2018, (page 347), and a list for South Cambridgeshire is being prepared.

We also hold information on other interesting buildings, including war memorials.

Making historic homes more energy efficient

We can make important carbon savings by making historic buildings more energy efficient, and this can be done without damaging their historic significance. There is a big carbon cost to demolishing existing buildings. The retention and re-use of buildings will help tackle climate change. We have produced guidance on making historic homes more energy efficient which draws on best practice and can help homeowners make the right decisions before applying for planning or listed building consent, if required.

Blue Plaque scheme

Cambridge’s blue plaque scheme was launched in 2001, and South Cambridgeshire’s scheme was launched in 2018.  

The blue plaques honour the most famous people or events associated with the city or the district. The people and events commemorated have made a significant impact on life in the city or district, the country or the world. Plaques are associated with a specific building or location within the city boundary. 

The scheme is run by local charity Cambridge Past, Present and Future, mostly through the efforts of volunteers. Visit their website for details of the existing plaques and how to nominate a person or event for commemoration.