Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) Handbook 2010 (NE226)
D    Options for historic and landscape features

Archaeological features, traditional buildings and designed landscapes, such as parkland, give the countryside its local character and interest, as well as providing a record of human activity over centuries. Changes in agriculture have damaged or destroyed many of these features or resulted in their dereliction. Beneficial management can protect these important sites and help to retain and enhance the distinctive and varied character of the local landscape and wider countryside for generations to come.

Before considering these options, please look carefully at your Environmental Information Map, supplied as part of your application pack. This may show some of the historic features on your farm. If you are aware of additional features, you must also mark these on your Farm Environment Record (FER) map. You can obtain information about historic features on your land from the Historic Environment Record at www.heritagegateway.org.uk (see Appendix 2 for the full web address).

Further information and guidance is available in a leaflet entitled Farming the Historic Landscape: Entry Level Stewardship, available from www.helm.org.uk or Natural England (see Appendix 1 for contact details).

Protection of archaeological features

Archaeological features - from individual sites, such as barrows, settlement sites or hill forts, to more extensive landscape features, such as ridge and furrow and ancient field systems - are often our only record of past human activity. They cannot be replaced and once destroyed, they are gone forever.

Cultivation can be particularly destructive. Taking these features out of cultivation is an essential step in conserving them for present and future generations to see and understand.

If you have historic features (including archaeological features and traditional farm buildings) on your farm, it is a requirement of joining ELS that you mark them on your FER and retain and protect them. This includes meeting the relevant scheme conditions detailed at Sections 1.6.4 and 1.6.5 of this handbook.

If you wish to carry out works (other than those specified in the measures below) that affect Scheduled Monuments, you must consult English Heritage.

ED1    Maintenance of weatherproof traditional farm buildings
2 points per m² of ground floor area


A traditional farm building (TFB) is a building or part of a building constructed before 1940 for a use associated with agriculture, and built using traditional methods and materials such as timber, brick, stone, tile and slate. Their construction, layout and function provide information about the rural economy and past farming practices. While many TFBs are not suited to modern agriculture, they are often valued features in the landscape and make a major contribution to local character. The annual active maintenance of weatherproof TFBs prevents the onset of serious structural problems that might otherwise need expensive restoration in the future.

Trees that form a group or line of more than four trees whose canopies overlap are not eligible for these options, but one of the 6m buffer strips or field corner options can be used to protect them. If the canopies do not overlap, each individual tree can earn the specified number of points. Dead trees are eligible for these options with the requirement that a '10 m radius from the base of the tree' must be used as a minimum where the prescription refers to the 'tree canopy'. Trees that die or fall during the course of the agreement must remain in position and the prescriptions must continue to be followed.

'Maintenance' refers to the routine work that is necessary to protect the fabric of a building and to keep it weatherproof. It does not include any work to put right significant defects or decay, or anything required to bring a building in poor repair back to good condition. This sort of restoration work may be funded under HLS. Some maintenance works will be required annually. Others, such as clearing of gutters and vegetation, may need to be undertaken several times per year.

Typical maintenance work includes:

  • undertaking a regular inspection of the building to check its condition and identify any problems that need attention;
  • ensuring that all services are working properly, such as making sure that gutters are free of debris;
  • undertaking minor repairs to the external fabric of the building, such as replacing slipped or broken roofing slates and tiles to prevent rainwater penetration, renewing cast iron gutters and drainpipes, painting woodwork and metalwork, replacing broken glass, pointing walls, clearing vegetation; and
  • inspecting the building regularly to identify areas needing maintenance work, such as checking downpipes and gutters for leaves in the autumn, noting slipped slates, and checking the condition of paintwork and other areas requiring rectification.

Eligible buildings include TFBs that:

  • are in a sound and weatherproof condition;
  • were built for a purpose associated with agriculture, such as housing machinery or animals, or storing or processing crops and food; and
  • are still used for an agricultural purpose, whether or not it was the original one (for example, a barn built to house animals which is now being used for storage of feedstuffs or equipment).

TFBs that meet the above conditions but which are currently unused or empty are also eligible. It is not a requirement for buildings to be on land registered on the Rural Land Register (see Section 1.3.2), but you must record them on the FER.

Ineligible buildings include:

  • farmhouses, residential or domestic buildings;
  • buildings already converted to a non-agricultural use, ie to a residential or non-agricultural business use;
  • TFBs already in receipt of funding from another scheme, such as the England Rural Development Programme (ERDP) or Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE);
  • TFBs that you intend to convert to a non-agricultural use during the life of your agreement; and
  • TFBs that will not be in your ownership or control for the life of your agreement.

For this option, you must comply with the following:

  • Continue to protect and maintain in weatherproof condition the specified TFB(s) (including fixtures and fittings and adjacent associated features, such as mounting blocks or stack/stook bases).
  • Carry out maintenance works and minor repairs on a ‘like for like’ basis, using traditional materials and methods, to retain the character of the building in its local setting.
  • Where a non-traditional material has previously been used to repair or re-clad the building (such as corrugated iron sheeting to cover roofs), this may be retained and should be maintained appropriately.
  • Obtain current photographs of all elevations of the building as evidence of its condition when you joined the scheme. This should include photographs of any areas where non-traditional materials have previously been used to repair or re-clad the building.
  • Keep a record of work done, and carry out and record a brief visual inspection at least once a year.
  • Retain the building in your ownership or control for the life of your agreement.
  • Ensure that the building is not converted to a non-agricultural use during the life of your agreement.
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