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Record and Analysis Surveys

Historical surveys, measured drawings, rectified photography, research and analysis of any building type to comply with conditions imposed by a local planning authority or, for grade II* or I buildings and scheduled ancient monuments, English Heritage, as part of planning permission or listed building consent. This is becoming increasingly common: local authorities can and will insist on such a survey, the cost of which must be borne by the applicant, and the nature of the survey can vary from a simple photographic record of the structure before work is carried out to a complete archaeological investigation supported by extensive primary research and presented in the manner stipulated by the Royal Commission (all four levels of recording described in Recording Historic Buildings, 3rd edition, 1996, RCHME, are fulfilled). It is usual in cases of commercial development of a site which includes one or more listed buildings that a record and analysis survey is required.

Read’s Flour Mill, King Street, Norwich, 2003

Derelict industrial site on an historic riverside location requiring a record and analysis survey in advance of conversion of the three listed buildings to apartments and redevelopment of the remainder

Normally a local authority will insist that only suitably qualified and experienced consultants may be used, and the client will be given a very short list of individuals or companies approved by the authority or by English Heritage. It is not usually possible, for example, for the client’s own architect to do the work. After the survey is completed and presented to the planning authority, it may become a public document, available for inspection by anyone. In some cases a desk-based analysis may be all that is required, and this is carried through to the standard described in Standard and Guidance for Archaeological Desk-Based Assessments, Institute of Field Archaeologists, 1997.

One or more such record and analysis surveys have become mandatory in recent years where a public grant is involved in the restoration or alteration of an historic or listed building, or a scheduled ancient monument, although in this case the cost is likely to be itself grant-aided. Local authorities may also insist that an approved consultant be present at key stages of alteration or extension of a building, for example metal-detecting foundation spoil before concrete is poured, or analysing the architectural significance of a timber frame or masonry as it is exposed during works, but before removal.

We have extensive experience in such surveys, which are always conducted on a fixed fee basis, and to the rigid timetable usually imposed by the project manager on the site. Halting works because the consultant is not available to inspect is completely unacceptable to the client, whether in simple alterations to a small listed cottage, or on a large commercial redevelopment site.

Room Survey Sheets were invented by this firm in 1990 (also called room data sheets). These set out every detail of every room or circulation space in the building in question, which allows informed decisions to be taken of the impact of any proposed changes. They also have the advantage that any future application, perhaps years after the initial work was done, can be quickly assessed without the need for another survey. In many cases the Local Authority merely has to refer to the sheets to establish that the west wall of a particular room, for example, is of the mid twentieth century, not of the seventeenth. This saves time and expense for all concerned. Small country cottages might have quite brief sheets for each room, but other buildings are exhaustive.

White HorseCottage, Attleborough, Norfolk
Full survey of a small timber-framed and listed building (grade II) as a condition of planning permission and listed building consent. All studs and openings numbered for individual analysis in the body of the text. The work included archaeological investigation under the area of a proposed extension, being the suspected site of a Roman road.


Restorations of churches do not always require a full record and analysis survey, as in most cases only parts of a church are repaired in any one programme, such as roofs, towers or windows, although the general building history and significance of the whole fabric is relevant and must be taken into account. The interpretation and maintenance of controlled ruins, however, almost always benefit from a complete report and in the case of a church or chapel proposed for redundancy a complete survey of all the internal fittings is usual. These all have to be identified, dated, photographed and their individual artistic of historic significance considered.


In the case of controlled ruins or scheduled monuments such as town or city walls vegetation growth is often a problem and over the years we have developed considerable experience in its removal without damaging the fabric. On occasions masses of ivy and buddleia have to be stripped off before the structure can even be photographed and surveyed, and this is an especially delicate procedure in the case of fragile medieval flint walling. Equally important is the identification of birds’ nests, small mammals and all otherwise protected species which may use the buildings or the encroaching vegetation as a habitat.