Heritage Significance and Selection Criteria

What is Heritage Significance?

For change to heritage assets to be managed in the best way, their heritage significance needs to be fully understood. This understanding underpins all planning policy relating to heritage assets and enables decisions to be made that minimise harm to an asset. More detail on heritage significance and local listing is available in Historic England Advice Note 7 'Local Heritage Listing: Identifying and Conserving Local Heritage'.

We will use the criteria in the table below to assess nominated local heritage assets. An asset will need to meet at least two of these criteria to qualify for inclusion on the local list. Some examples have been provided, but due to the broad range of asset types these are illustrative and not exhaustive.

As part of the nomination process, we are asking you to state which of these criteria is applicable to the asset you are nominating. Understanding what you think is important about the asset will help us to assess it. There is some overlap between these criteria, so feel free to answer 'yes' to any that you feel apply to the asset you are nominating.

Local distinctiveness may lie as much in the modest or the everyday as in the rare and spectacular. The idiosyncratic, the quirky, the odd. Or just a cherished and familiar part of the local scene. And remember, heritage assets are not just buildings. They can be anything from features in the ground to gardens and burial grounds, from signs and street furniture to the remains of our industrial heritage.

Surrey Local Heritage List Project 2021/22 Selection Criteria

RefHeritage Significance CriterionDescriptionNotes and Examples
ARarityA rare survival of an asset type, either due to its intrinsic rarity or through its integrity, for example it is largely unaltered. The age of an asset will be a factor to be taken into consideration under this criterion. Rarity will also be considered in a local context, for example an asset may have greater significance in one place than in another.Although age is not a criterion itself, the older an asset is the rarer and more significant in heritage terms it is likely to be.

Rarity has a geographical dimension. Context and location will be important as survival and significance vary considerably depending on what an asset is, and where it is located.

Rarity may relate to the survival of fragile features such as prehistoric field systems and hollow ways.
BGroup ValueStrong functional or visual link with other assets, the asset contributing to the understanding of asset groups or complexes which have significance or prominence in a local context. Assets located within conservation areas may qualify for inclusion under this criterion, if they contribute positively to the character of the area, and/or contribute to an understanding of its development.

Designed landscapes, whether in an urban or rural setting, can have group value with other heritage assets – country house, hospital, pavilion – each contributing to and enhancing setting and/or understanding of the other.

The survival of a former granary building within a complex of farm buildings, or a coach house or stables once serving a dwelling or coaching inn, may enhance the understanding of the wider site.

Assets may also collectively have value, for example where they were designed as a single entity – such as a planned settlement or area.

CArchitectural or artistic valueAssets displaying a distinctive or innovative style or design, to include exceptional examples of local craftsmanship or detailing, unusual building technique or local distinctiveness through use of local materials. Assets reflecting in their design and layout key aspects of significant national trends, adapted to local conditions, may also qualify for inclusion under this criterion.

Features can be internal or external, but more weight is likely to be given where assets display external features as they are more widely visible and prominent in the local scene.

Characteristic detailing such as ironstone paving and galletting illustrate the use of local materials and contribute to local distinctiveness.

DArchaeological ValueAssets containing evidence of past human activity, to inform and enhance knowledge of the development of the area, including evidence of industrial, rural, agricultural practices or technologies.

Archaeological value can relate not just to buried archaeology, but to buildings and other assets such as designed landscapes holding evidence of past human activity and worthy of expert investigation at some point.

Assets can show change over time and contain evidence of – for example – use and adaptation over many centuries of history.

EHistoric AssociationAssets which have a strong and evidenced association with important local or national person, event or social movement. This could include an association with nationally or locally recognised architect or garden designer.

For associations with a person, this will need to be strong and of some duration, with some tangible evidence remaining – for example, part of a building added during a person's occupancy, or a literary work written or inspired by a place. A brief stay or visit would not be sufficient to meet this criterion.

Examples might be a place closely associated with a reform movement, such as the suffragettes, or an industry which is closely associated with the development and history of a town, village or area.

Military and defence features may also qualify for inclusion under this criterion.

FLandmark StatusAssets which are highly valued by and significant to local communities due to their historic, communal or striking aesthetic value, and which are prominently located in the public realm.

Key to this criterion is prominence, something which is easily and widely recognised as being an integral part of a place, and which gives it identity.

An asset which, if it was no longer there, would be very much missed.

Examples might be a space which is a focal point for a community, such as a bandstand or pavilion within a public park or garden. Or a piece of public artwork, sculpture or memorial.

GSocial and Cultural ValueAssets which make a strong contribution to the collective memory of a place and local identity, including those which provide evidence and understanding of past societal customs, practices or beliefs, and assets which have acquired local significance and prominence through documentation, research or previous identification as an asset of heritage value (for example as a former Grade III building or other form of local heritage asset). Assets which provide an important focus for faith, worship or commemoration will also be considered under this criterion.

Places with social or cultural value may have little or no tangible or physical evidence but may represent past traditions or practices.

Surrey's past is everybody's past. Local heritage lists should reflect the richness and diversity of the cultural heritage valued by all sections of its communities.

Burial grounds and other landscapes of remembrance could be considered under this criterion, especially less common examples such as burial grounds attached to institutions, mass or emergency burial grounds, and non-Anglian burial grounds.

Significant 'firsts' may qualify under this criterion – the first use of a technology, or the first place of worship established by an immigrant community, for example.

Village/town pounds or water pumps were once commonplace but are long since obsolete. Their survival is an important reminder of how places once functioned. 'Ghost' signs could also qualify under this criterion.

Subscribe to our newsletters for latest news and events.