Paths crisscross an uneven hillside leading down from a Palladian building and terrace. A pavillian and lawns dot the hillside.
South Cliff Gardens, Scarborough, North Yorkshire © Historic England Archive DP262151 Visit the list entry for Valley Gardens and South Cliff Gardens.
South Cliff Gardens, Scarborough, North Yorkshire © Historic England Archive DP262151 Visit the list entry for Valley Gardens and South Cliff Gardens.

What Are Registered Parks and Gardens?

Our 'Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England', established in 1984, includes over 1,700 designed landscapes (such as parks and gardens) assessed to be of particular significance.

The record of each registered park and garden is hosted on the National Heritage List for England (known as the NHLE, or the List). The NHLE is a publicly available, searchable database that contains information on England’s protected heritage. There are other forms of protection and recognition for heritage included on the NHLE, including scheduled monuments and registered battlefields. 

What is registration?  

The Register of Parks and Gardens includes specially designed landscapes of all ages, right up to the recent past.  

The emphasis of the Register is on gardens, grounds, and other planned open spaces, such as town squares. Many sites registered are, or started life as, the grounds of private houses, but public parks and cemeteries form important categories too. Even hospital landscapes and two pumping stations are included, because they have skilfully planned surroundings reflecting the landscaping fashions of their day. The emphasis of the Register is on 'designed' landscapes, rather than on planting or botanical importance. 

The main purpose of the Register is to celebrate designed landscapes of note and encourage appropriate protection. It is hoped that, by drawing attention to sites in this way, we will increase awareness of their value and encourage those who own them, or who otherwise have a role in their protection and their future, to treat these special places with due care. 

Established under the National Heritage Act 1983, the Register, which we administer, now includes many hundreds of sites in both urban and rural locations. A registered park or garden is not protected by a separate consent regime, however, where planning permission is sought for development affecting a registered park or garden, the Local Planning Authority will consider the impact of the proposals on the site’s special character and give great weight to its conservation.  The National Planning Policy Framework defines registered parks and gardens as designated heritage assets meaning that substantial harm to, or total loss of, a registered park or garden should be ‘exceptional’ or ‘wholly exceptional’, depending on the site’s grade.    

We often use the word ‘listing’ as shorthand for other forms of designation. For instance whilst our online application form is called the ‘Listing Application Form’ it is the same form used to apply for registration of a park or garden. 


Please click on the gallery images to enlarge.

What are the criteria for registering parks and gardens?

We assess whether a park or garden should be registered by considering whether it can be said to be of ‘special historic interest’. This will depend on factors such as the age of its main layout and features, its rarity as an example of historic landscape design and the quality of the surviving landscape. Designed landscapes which are less than 30 years old are unlikely to be considered unless they are of outstanding importance and under threat.

Our Parks and Gardens Selection Guides, which give an overview on the type of criteria we will look for in registering a park or garden, cover the following area:

Full details of the listing process can be found on our listing process page. When we assess a park or garden for registration we will go through a similar process to that of assessing a building for listing, however at the consultation stage we will also consult with the Garden History Society.

Like listed buildings, registered parks and gardens can be registered at Grade II, II* or I.

How many registered parks and gardens are there? 

There are over 1,700 entries for registered parks and gardens on the National Heritage List for England. 

Looking after registered parks and gardens

Registration is a ‘material consideration’ in planning terms so, following an application for development which would affect a registered park or garden, local planning authorities must consider the historic interest of the site when deciding whether to grant permission. 

Local Planning Authorities are required to consult Historic England where a planning application affects a Grade I or II* registered site, and the Gardens Trust on all applications affecting registered sites, regardless of the grade of the site. Historic England's Landscape Architects provide advice and guidelines on issues relating to the care and conservation of registered parks and gardens. 

Many designed landscapes have listed buildings within their boundaries: these assets, including their setting, can have their own development controls which can affect proposals within a registered landscape too. 

Local planning authorities are also specifically guided towards protecting registered parks and gardens when preparing development plans. As a result, most local plans contain policies to help safeguard these kinds of landscapes. These plans usually stress those sites included on the national register, as well as parks and gardens of more local interest. 

Registered parks and gardens are not automatically open to the public, so check before you plan a visit. 

Did you know?

  • The registered Kennedy Memorial landscape in Surrey is a memorial to former US President John F. Kennedy. It features 50 steps leading to a memorial. Each step is different, with the entire flight made from 60,000 hand-cut granite pieces. 
  • The Historic England Archives include the Nigel Temple Collection, a huge collection of postcards, many of which are of parks and gardens. Nigel Temple was a postcard collector and an expert on garden design - his collection can help us to understand how many parks and gardens, including registered ones, looked in the past.
  • We can thank the public park movement of the 1830s for many of our registered urban public parks, which saw landscaped spaces laid out in response to overcrowding. 
  • Few allotments are registered because of their purpose and layout, but there a couple of important ones on the Register including Coventry’s Stoney Road Allotments, with their decorative 19th and early 20th century summerhouses, and Warwick’s Hill Close Gardens, a rare survivor from the Victoria era. Hill Close Gardens offered garden plots for rent, something which was once common on the edges of towns, but which were largely destroyed as towns grew outwards.

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