City Evolution - digital
Introduction and Overview
Though no official UK figures are available for numbers of buildings in UK cities it is broadly estimated that there are around 20 million , based on English Housing Survey and Valuation Office Agency property figures.
It is estimated that around 7.5% of these buildings are designated ie where permission to demolish is required. These range from prehistoric stone circles to classic red telephone boxes, from palaces to post war housing, and include around half a million 'Listed buildings' and an estimated million buildings covered by 'conservation area' status.
Above we see designated assets mapped for London reproduced courtesy of Historic England and Ordnance Survey. (Image Tom Duane, 1:44,000) The map provides an overview of the capital’s nationally protected heritage; scheduled monuments, listed buildings, registered parks and gardens and a registered battlefield. Also overlaid are conservation areas, which since the 1960s have recognised the historic interest of wider areas of our built environment.
The pattern of protection tells us something about the development of London: Scheduled monuments (nationally important archaeological sites) and listed buildings are clustered towards the centre, the west and southwest. This reflects the growth of the city from its Roman core, as well as the later separation of grander housing in the more affluent west from poorer housing and industry to the east.
The first heritage legislation was passed in 1882 though the first formal protection, the 'Scheduling' of monuments began in1913. Stimulated by extensive loss during the war, this was followed by 'Listing' in 1947, with further designation categories added over the years.
Two years ago data relating to an estimated 500,000 protected assets was only accessible through a huge paper archive formed of thousands of files. However in 2011 English Heritage launched the National Heritage List for England (NHLE) which enabled the public to search all of this information for the first time.
In 2012 Steve Evans at 3Figs (now at UCL's Energy Insitute) and Polly Hudson worked with English Heritage’s designation department and its digital mapping team to create the animation seen above. Using NHLE data and NASA imagery a 3 minute film was produce to allow the public to view all designated heritage assets in England visualised for the first time, and to give a brief animated overview of the designation history.
To view mapped designated assets in the context of other datasets for the UK visit