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Portsmouth is recognised nationally and internationally as a city of historic interest.

Its conservation requires specialist knowledge, particular care and the joint efforts of many different groups. Portsmouth City Council, businesses, property owners and local residents all have their part to play.

The leaflet below, called Conserving Portsmouth's Heritage, explains briefly the council's management role in conserving the city's built environment, including the historic street furniture such as streetlights and shelters on Southsea seafront or unusual ceramic street names.

Read more below in the leaflet called Roads and street furniture in historic areas.

Contact us at planning before carrying out any works involving changes to a historic building, to be sure of the legal position.

Portsmouth has 25 conservation areas, including Old Portsmouth, Thomas Ellis Owen's Southsea and the older part of HM Naval Base.

Designation as a conservation area means new development should help preserve or enhance the character and appearance of areas of architectural or historic interest. Designation also controls works to trees and demolition of buildings. Some conservation areas in Portsmouth have additional protection called Article 4 Directions.

The key is a skilful mixture of preservation, improvement of the surroundings and sympathetic new design.

The historic environment is a source of national and local pride. It provides a sense of identity and belonging, as well as contributing to our overall wellbeing and quality of life. Used successfully, it can support the educational, cultural and economic wellbeing of an area.

Most community feedback on the historic environment happens at a local level, so the council has a vital role in protecting England’s heritage. With the encouragement of Historic England, we have appointed a heritage champion at councillor level to play an influential role in supporting the protection of the city’s local heritage.

This is a new developmental role - Cllr Stephen Morgan has agreed to be the council’s first heritage champion. The initial priorities and responsibilities have been identified as:

  • making the council aware of important historic environment issues and opportunities 
  • promoting the value of the historic environment as a catalyst for regeneration and economic growth, and its potential for attracting economic investment and funding in certain areas
  • raising the profile of the historic environment in planning discussions and documents by working with planning officers to ensure key issues and opportunities are identified and addressed
  • working with key departments and organisations in, and outside of, the council to promote and maximise the benefits the historic environment can have on people and the economy of the city

An action plan will be developed by council officers with oversight by the heritage champion. The main liaison over the role and support will be provided through the Assistant Director for Culture and City Development.

No financial implications are associated with the role, and heritage champions do not have decision-making powers. Responsibilities for decisions around heritage continue to rest with the appropriate Cabinet Member or council committee.

Why are heritage champions important?

The role of heritage champion is tailored to meet the needs of the city and the ambitions of the council.

A heritage champion should:

Inspire - Generate enthusiasm and awareness for the importance of the historic environment within the council and wider community, and act as a point of contact for support and information on heritage-related issues for the local community and others outside of the council.

Advocate - Promote opportunities that draw attention to the historic environment across the council and help ensure that commitment to the proper care of the historic environment is embedded in all activities influenced by the council.

Influence - Champions should use their position to influence those around them for the benefit of the historic environment.

Communicate - Communicating within the council, and with Historic England and other heritage organisations is a large part of a Champion’s work.

Follow the link for more information on the heritage champion role at Historic England.

A listed building must possess special architectural or historic interest to be include on the Historic England national list of buildings of architectural or historic interest. Buildings under ten years old cannot be listed. Read more about the different types of building listing in the leaflet below.

Portsmouth's listed buildings are typically:

  • almost all those buildings built before 1700
  • most Georgian period buildings (1714 to 1837)
  • buildings of definite quality from the Victorian and Edwardian periods (1840 to 1914)
  • twentieth century buildings of exceptional quality.

The Department for culture, media and sport's last review in 1999 added a number of buildings to the Portsmouth list, which is now:

  • over 600 listed buildings, including 12 Grade I listed buildings
  • 17 ancient monuments
  • three historic parks and gardens.

Structures other than buildings can also be listed, such as red telephone boxes, milestones, tombs and monuments. Ancient monuments can include earthworks, medieval castles and abbeys, industrial structures, defensive structures as recent as World War II. Application for work to an ancient monument must be made to English Heritage.

You can download below the schedule of listed buildings and ancient monuments in Portsmouth. Follow the link for more information on local monuments and memorials.

There are many buildings and structures of visual interest not protected because they do not meet national criteria, but they do add interest to the character and variety of Portsmouth. Schools, churches and public houses (particularly from the Victorian and Edwardian periods) all contribute interest and variety to the streetscape and are often landmarks in areas of terraced housing.

To help highlight and protect these buildings of local interest, the council compiled its own local list of historic buildings and structures, with 267 entries referring to about 500 addresses. You can download the local list below.

The policy concerning buildings of local interest is included in the Portsmouth City Local Plan.

Other buildings in the city have blue plaques commemorating the people who once lived and worked there. 

You can download leaflets at the bottom of the page about different aspects of historic buildings consent, which helps conserve Portsmouth's heritage areas.

Boundary treatment of historic buildings - boundaries are an integral part of architectural design. In conservation areas, demolition of walls, or any other means of enclosure, generally requires conservation area consent.

Roofs and windows in historic buildings - to preserve the character and appearance of historic buildings it is important to keep the original roof slates or clay tiles, and to repair using traditional replacements. One of the most important elements of historic buildings is window type and detail, so it is important to retain the original style and materials.

The two leaflets below - roofs on historic buildings and windows in historic buildings - outline the legal position regarding replacement roofs and windows in historic buildings, and also advise on appropriate and inappropriate roof and windows types.

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