Frequently asked questions

Historic environment

Why does the Council have an Historic Environment?

Woking possesses many buildings of architectural and historic interest, as well as conservation areas, forming part of its cultural heritage. Other components of this heritage include ancient monuments, historic gardens and areas of historic landscape interest. All these aspects of Woking's history need appropriate protection for future generations to enjoy.

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Ancient monuments

Are there any ancient monuments in Woking?

Yes, five sites in the Borough are scheduled ancient monuments:

  1. Bell barrow and disc barrow on Horsell Common
    (O.S. Map Reference TQ 0159 NW)
  2. Bell barrow on Horsell Common immediately east of Monument Road
    (O.S. Map Reference TQ 0159 NE)
  3. Woking Old Palace and its moated riverside site
    (O.S. Map Reference TQ 0257 SE)
  4. The site of the Manor House at Sutton Place
    (O.S. Map Reference TQ 0053 NW)
  5. Goldsworth (Langmans) Bridge (about 1790 - brick bridge over the Basingstoke Canal)
    (O.S. Map Reference SU 9858 SE)

Their historic remains are protected as they have national importance. These sites include a number of Bronze Age burial mounds and the ruins of Woking Palace, once a royal residence of Henry VIII, which is now owned by the Council.

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Listed buildings

What is a Statutory Listed Building?

A Statutory Listed Building is a "building of special architectural or historic interest". The Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport is responsible for the compilation and maintenance of the Statutory List. Recommendations for, and records of, Listed Buildings are maintained by English Heritage, which acts as the government's advisor on all additions and other alterations to the Statutory List. You cannot alter or demolish a Listed Building without permission from Woking Borough Council.

There are also some buildings in the Borough which are classified as Locally Listed Buildings.

Which buildings are Statutory Listed?

Buildings of special architectural or historic interest. Buildings are selected by English Heritage on the basis of age, particular historical/architectural character reflecting socio-economic history, association with well known local people or possessing some group value, especially where buildings comprise an important architectural or historic unity or are a fine example of planning (such as squares, terraces or model villages).

In terms of age, the following groups are recognised:

  • all buildings before 1700 which are substantially intact
  • most buildings 1700-1840 are listed, though selection necessary
  • between 1840-1914 only buildings of definite quality and character are listed, including the principle works of important architects and
  • post-1914 buildings of high quality and distinctive or representative of past architectural styles.

The list is divided into Grade I buildings which are of paramount importance to the nation, Grade II* which are of outstanding interest and Grade II which are of special interest. The grading of a building in the statutory lists is a material consideration for the exercise of listed building control. Grade I and Grade II* buildings are of great importance to the nations built heritage: their significance will generally go beyond dispute: see PPG15 (Planning Policy Guidance Note 15: 'Planning and the historic environment'). However, statutory controls apply equally to all listed buildings, irrespective of grade, since Grade II includes about 94% of all listed buildings in England, representing a major element in the national historic environment. Failure to obtain consent for their alteration or demolition is an offence, which can be punishable by fine or imprisonment as this could lead to widespread damage to the nations historic environment.

How can I find out if a property is Statutory Listed?

To find out if a property is Statutory Listed please search our database.

How do buildings become listed?

English Heritage undertakes periodic reviews of all areas to consider the further inclusion of buildings on the Statutory List. However, additional buildings may be considered for 'spot' listing where they satisfy the eligibility criteria. Anyone can seek the Statutory Listing of a building. Requests are best made through Woking Borough Council.

How does Statutory Listing affect an owner?

All Statutory Listed Buildings are protected by the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. The Act confers certain powers on both the Local Authority and the Secretary of State to protect the historic fabric of Listed Buildings and their settings. In particular, these powers control any works of demolition, alteration or extension of a Listed Building for which Listed Building Consent is required (usually in addition to normal planning consent).

Can I alter, extend or demolish a Statutory Listed Building?

You cannot demolish any part of a listed building, nor extend it, or carry out any interior or exterior alterations affecting its character without first obtaining Listed Building Consent from the Council. It is a criminal offence to undertake unauthorised works, which could result in a fine or imprisonment. Listed Building consent will also be required to undertake works within the boundary of a Listed Building if they will affect its setting.

What is the buildings at risk register?

The buildings at risk register brings together information on all the Grade I and II* listed buildings, and scheduled ancient monuments, known to English Heritage to be 'at risk' through neglect and decay, or vulnerable to becoming so. Most of the buildings and structures are in poor to very bad condition, but a few in fair condition are also included, usually because they have become functionally redundant, making their future uncertain. Inclusion on the register means no criticism of the owners as many actively seek ways of securing their future.

Woking Borough Council also has a separate at risk register which also covers all the Grade II Listed Buildings not otherwise included in the English Heritage register.

Listed Building Consent must be obtained from Woking Borough Council if you wish to demolish, alter or extend the building in any way which affects the character or setting of the building. This may include works in the boundary of the building.

Consent is similar to planning permission but there are no fees involved. If permission is granted to demolish you will have to notify The Royal Commission on Historic Monuments. Following the granting of Listed Building Consent at least one month must be allowed for the Commission to either record the building, or state they have no wish to record it. Only then can demolition work begin.

You will probably also need planning permission and buildings regulations approval and English Heritage will be consulted on applications concerning Grade I and Grade II* buildings.

Who is responsible for the repairs and maintenance of Listed Buildings?

Owners are encouraged to keep their Listed Buildings in good repair.

Listed Building consent is not normally required for repairs and routine maintenance. However, works such as the replacement of windows or the replacement of a clay tile roof with a concrete tile roof involve alterations which will require consent. Other types of work, such as external painting involving a change of colour and abrasive cleaning techniques, which could affect the character of the property as a building of special architectural or historic interest may also need listed building consent.

Are grants available towards the costs of works?

The Surrey Historic Building Trust (SHBT) administers an award scheme for the repair of historic buildings. For further information on grants available, please contact Martin Higgins, Conservation Officer, Surrey History Centre, 30 Goldsworth Road, Woking, GU21 6ND or call 01483 518 758.

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Locally listed buildings

What is a locally listed building?

In addition to the Statutory List, 330 buildings have been selected by the Council to form a 'local list', comprising residential, commercial and public buildings. The Council will undertake periodic reviews to consider the inclusion of additional buildings on the local list when necessary. Although buildings on the local list have no form of statutory protection, their status is still a relevant consideration in any planning application. However, when they are located within a conservation area, they are afforded some degree of statutory protection.

Which buildings are locally listed?

Those buildings worthy of inclusion on the local list are subdivided into two categories:

  • A building of Architectural SignificanceBuildings of Local Architectural or Historic significance

    Essentially, these comprise the older properties in the Borough which fall just short of the standards required for selection onto the Statutory List. The following criteria have been used in their selection:

    • all substantially intact buildings earlier than 1840
    • buildings between 1840-1914 of good architectural character
    • selected buildings between 1914-1939, especially those having interesting or unusual architectural detail and
    • exceptional early post-war buildings may also be included.
  • A building of Townscape MeritBuildings of Townscape Merit

    These are buildings of any age up to early post-war period which are representative of their architectural period, and are notable for their interesting character of distinctive location. Many of the buildings also reflect the decorative detailed workmanship commonly used in the past. The following criteria have been used for their selection:

    • buildings containing unique features or having distinctive architectural character e.g. special decorative treatment of facing materials and
    • buildings of distinctive architectural quality which have made interesting use of visually significant sites and form local landmarks. Such buildings may provide vistas, emphasise corner sites or provide focal points in the townscape.

How do buildings become Locally Listed?

Woking Borough Council will undertake periodic reviews to consider the inclusion of additional buildings on the local list when necessary.

How does Local Listing affect an owner?

The inclusion of a building on the local list does not introduce any additional Statutory controls. However, the Council has adopted Supplementary Planning Guidance for buildings which have been included on the Local List.

When considering applications for proposals to alter, extend, demolish, or which affect the setting of a building on the local list, the following guidelines should be borne in mind:

  • the Council will seek to encourage the preservation and enhancement of buildings on the Local List and there will be a presumption against demolition, especially in Conservation Areas. In appropriate cases the Council will, however, consider relaxation of its policies controlling change of use where the Council is satisfied this is necessary to secure the retention of the building
  • the Council will seek to protect the character and setting of the buildings on the Local List by preserving public views and setting a high standard of design wherever possible
  • where demolition of buildings on the Local List is exceptionally permitted, a high standard of design will be required in any replacement building. Where possible, special elements of the building should be salvaged and re-used in the development scheme and
  • extensions or alterations of buildings on the Local List should be of a high standard of design and closely reflect the form, elevation detail and material finish of the original building.

Can I alter, extend or demolish a Locally Listed building?

There are no special planning controls over works to a building on the local list, although the Council will require that any alteration or extension to the building is carefully designed to match the buildings character. There will be a presumption against the demolition of all buildings on the local list and in the case of locally listed buildings within a conservation area, the same tests will apply, as if the building were Statutory Listed. The requirements are detailed in Woking Core Strategy planning policy (see Policy CS20 'Heritage and Conservation'), and in national planning policy guidance here.

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Conservation Areas

What is a Conservation Area?

A conservation area is an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which is desirable to preserve or enhance. They were originally introduced under the Civic Amenities Act in 1967, and later embraced in the 1971 Town and Country Planning Act.

Which areas have been designated as Conservation Areas?

Under the current Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, the Council has a duty from time to time to review its Conservation Areas and to determine whether other areas should also be designated.

To date Woking Borough Council has designated 25 Conservation Areas.

If my property is in a Conservation Area, how is it affected?

In conservation areas the Council has additional special controls to help protect the character of the area such as demolition of buildings, development, trees, and design of new development.

Demolition of buildings in Conservation Areas

Until recently, 'Conservation Area Consent' was normally required before any building or structure could be demolished (including walls and outbuildings). From 1st October 2013, demolition works in Conservation Areas now require planning permission. This change means that whilst the permission of the Council is still required, it is no longer necessary to submit two applications for development proposals involving the demolition and replacement of a building in a Conservation Area (one for planning permission and one for conservation area consent). There will be a presumption against the demolition of all period buildings within a Conservation Area, especially those on the Councils local list. The same test will be used as those for the demolition of Statutory Listed buildings. 'Listed Building Consent' is unaffected by these changes, and is normally required even for minor works to Statutory Listed Buildings; and it is unlikely that consent will be permitted for demolition.

Trees in Conservation Areas

For information on Trees in Conservation Areas, please visit our Trees FAQ.

Design of New Development in Conservation Areas

Planning applications for any form of development or redevelopment within a conservation area will be examined very carefully to ensure that all elements of the proposal, particularly: bulk, height, form, elevational design, materials, colour and layout are appropriate for the specific character of each Conservation Area. For further information see our design advice and design publications page.

Conservation Area appraisals

The Council is currently preparing appraisals on each of the Borough's Conservation Areas. The main purpose of the guides is to clarify what it is that is special about the character of each Conservation Area which the Council is seeking to protect and enhance. The information is intended to assist applicants when preparing submissions for planning consent, such as alterations and extensions, as well as assisting the Council in the control of development to protect the character of each area. Information in these guides will also be of assistance to householders who are seeking to restore period dwellings in these areas. Everyone in the conservation area will be consulted on the guidance for their particular area. Current Supplementary Planning Guidance on Conservation Areas is available on this site.

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Historic Parks and Gardens

Are there any historic parks and gardens in Woking?

There are three Gardens of Historic Interest in the Borough: Pyrford Court, Brookwood Cemetery and Sutton Place. These are included in the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest, compiled by English Heritage.

Do they have any special planning controls?

They do not have any additional planning controls although they do receive special consideration if and when proposals in the area are contemplated.

The Council will seek to identify and to use its planning powers where possible, to protect parks and gardens of historic interest. Such gardens will be preserved and protected from insensitive developments and prevented from unsympathetic subdivision.

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Useful addresses

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