Built Heritage

Protecting and conserving built heritage while delivering a major infrastructure programme

Britain’s railway heritage is the world’s richest. Along with churches and government departments, the railway industry is one of the most significant owners of historic premises and structures. As the railways experience their biggest investment since Victorian times there is a need to protect and conserve their rich history and heritage.

Preserving our historic environment is also recognised as a key component of delivering sustainable infrastructure programmes. Delivering the Thameslink Programme (TLP) had heritage impacts both in operation and construction. To minimise this impact the programme worked closely with local authorities and English Heritage to protect and conserve heritage at a number of locations including Farringdon, Blackfriars, Borough Market and London Bridge as well as including this commitment in the TLP Sustainability Strategy.

Britain’s and Thameslink Programme’s railway heritage

Britain’s railway heritage includes a wide range of types of buildings and structures, many of which were first devised in this country to meet the needs of the new railways. Every style and material is represented in its architecture and engineering. This heritage is still growing: railway buildings completed as recently as 1966 have now been listed. The 681 railway buildings and structures listed in 1985 in England, Scotland and Wales had increased to some 1,650 by 2009; Ancient Monuments increased from 45 to over 100 in the same period, while numerous parts of the railway estate fall within Conservation Areas.

Delivering TLP impacted upon the Grade II listed station building at Farringdon and London Bridge, the listed southern abutment of the former West Blackfriars and St Paul Rail bridge at Blackfriars and the conservation areas of Borough High Street and Tooley Street South. The programme worked collaboratively with the supply chain and regulators to minimise the impacts to the built heritage in these areas through the following approaches.

A sustainable Thameslink Programme

Sustainability was right at the heart of Thameslink Programme and our vision was to ‘deliver transport benefits to budget that represents value for money and creates an overall positive impact on the community and the environment’.

To do this we worked to ensure that not only did we achieve the highest standards in sustainability, but we upheld them on all fronts. As part of our vision TLP committed ‘To identify and manage sites during construction where heritage is to be maintained and enhanced.’

Planning protocol and Listed building consents

Under the Transport and works Act Order TLP was required to comply with PPG15 – Planning and the Historic Environment whose objective is to preserve any listed building or its setting, or any features of special architectural character or historic interest which it possesses as well as preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of any conservation area.

The historic and architectural importance of stations such as Farringdon and London Bridge is recognised in it being afforded statutory protection as a grade II listed building. As such, any works to the station which affect its special character and/or its appearance were authorised by the local planning authority via the granting of listed building consent. Furthermore, English Heritage directed the local planning authority on whether or not to grant listed building consents and what conditions needs to be attached to any consent.

To manage the listed building issues the Network Rail TLP Consents team, along with assistance and advice from heritage specialists, worked collaboratively with the supply chain to achieve the following:

  • Smooth management and delivery of the consents application process to keep the programme schedule on track
  • Oversee the salvage (and eventual restoration) of a number of historic station features
  • Undertake specialist historic building recording of structures or elements lost through the scheme.
  • Produce statements of significance and impact assessments, which have since become statutory requirements as set out in Planning Policy Statement 5.

Case Studies

Built Heritage: Blackfriars Station

A number of heritage features were preserved in the redevelopment of Blackfriars station and Bridge.

Built Heritage: Borough Viaduct

The case study examines how heritage was protected and conserved during the construction of the Borough Viaduct and Borough High Street Bridge.

Built Heritage: Farringdon Station

Grade II listed Farringdon station building was built in 1865 and modified in 1922. This case study outlines the heritage features that were preserved during its redevelopment, the design challenges faced and best practice for future projects.

Built Heritage: London Bridge Station

A number of heritage features were preserved during the redevelopment of London Bridge station, which involved the demolition of a Grade II listed building under listed building consent.

Built Heritage documents

Managing Heritage Impacts - Farringdon Station

To manage the listed building issues that must be considered, Network Rail obtained additional assistance and advice from specialists with extensive expertise and experience in dealing with heritage structures, construction methods and the associated consents processes.



Cable Management - Farringdon Station

One of the biggest challenges in transforming Farringdon station was to keep the station open and services operating whilst moving and replacing the cabling and equipment that keep the station operating.



Reducing the impact of construction on listed structures

Close working between Network Rail (including contractors Costain and its specialist heritage and consents advisors) the London Borough of Islington (LBI) and English Heritage (EH) has resulted in a scheme which augments the historic station and adjacent conservation area while retaining its own character and identity.


Local newspaper article from 1989

Plans for the Thameslink Programme that we see today were outlined in this article published locally in 1989. You can zoom in on the article by clicking the document pdf link at the bottom of this page.