New British Standard for conservation of historic buildings

Wednesday 05 March 2014

The British Standards Institute has published a new guide to the conservation of historic buildings in the UK.

  • Heritage Cottage

    Heritage Cottage

  • Plas Mawr

    Plas Mawr

  • Castell Coch

    Castell Coch

  • Tretower Court

    Tretower Court

BS 7913 — Guide to the conservation of historic buildings is the only authoritative national UK guide, and goes beyond the usual topics — such as conservation ethics and authentic materials — to tackle issues such as ensuring optimum quality of conservation work and appropriate property management.

Cadw’s Assistant Director John Edwards, the lead author and chair of the drafting panel, said: 'This standard is for all traditional buildings and not just those which are listed.

'It is aimed at everybody and not just the specialist — and this is particularly important as most of those dealing with older buildings in the UK are from the mainstream part of the industry and deal with a quarter of the UK building stock.

'This new guide provides valuable, up-to-date information and signposts where additional information can be found.'

Whilst there are many notable features of the guide, the need to properly plan and manage issues ranging from significance to the quality of work stands out as critical ingredients in the conservation process.

The new guide attempts to blend the different requirements of all UK home nations and was prepared by a panel containing a broad range of experts from across the UK, including heritage bodies and professional institutions.

John Edwards explained that the process of creating the standard was very challenging.

'A range of organisations and disciplines were represented on the panel, and the consultation process brought about many diverse and conflicting views. We just had to take a balance and come up with a document that takes account of the many views expressed.'

The new standard replaces the first edition of BS 7913, which was published in 1998.

John Edwards added: 'Since 1998, the approach to conservation has changed somewhat. There is now a greater emphasis on a broad range of issues that are classed as ‘significance’ — which is well described in the published conservation principles of organisations such as English Heritage and Cadw.

'Other issues, such as climate change, energy efficiency and sustainability, are also now firmly part of the conservation agenda, and are therefore included within this standard.'