Norwich Cathedral and its Close are of such immense historic importance that in addition to normal controls the buildings and below-ground archaeology have additional protection. This page summarises some of the key aspects of the historic environment designations.
The Cathedral Measure, as introduced in 1990 and amended in 2005, has the same weight as an Act of Parliament, and makes numerous provisions for, and requirements of, the Anglican cathedrals of England. The Measure applies to the area within the designated precinct – the boundary often known as the ‘green line’ – and requires the approval from the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for works than have an impact on the fabric of the cathedral, its setting, or archaeological remains within the designated precinct; and for sale, loan or disposal of objects. The role of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission is especially important for the Cathedral church and cloisters at Norwich since these lie within an area of Ecclesiastical Exemption and, as such, are exempt from secular historic building controls. Of course, some works are minor and are better decided at local level: for this reason the Measure provided for a Fabric Advisory Committee of more local experts at each cathedral. Amongst its provisions the Measure also requires that each cathedral appoint a Cathedral Archaeologist – that is, an external consultant with expertise in the historic buildings and below-ground archaeology of the Cathedral and its precinct.
Norwich Cathedral has three buildings within the designated precinct that are scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. These Scheduled Monuments comprise the Erpringham gate, the Ethelbert gate and the water gate (or Pull’s Ferry). The approval of English Heritage is required for works that affect these gatehouses.
Many of the buildings and monuments in the Close are formally listed as being of architectural importance, and protected under the Planning (Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings) Act 1990. There are sixty-five listed buildings or groups of buildings (‘buildings’ here includes statues and lengths of the precinct wall) of which five are Grade I, forty-three are Grade II* and seventeen are Grade II. Works to listed buildings in the Close often require consent from Norwich City Council and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport/English Heritage.
The entire designated precinct of Norwich Cathedral falls within the City Centre conservation area, established by Norwich City Council under the Planning (Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings) Act 1990. Due to the other designations for and in the Close – especially the presence of so many listed buildings and the designation of the precinct under the Cathedral Measure – conservation area status has perhaps less importance than elsewhere, but, for example, its provisions with regard to trees and alterations to unlisted buildings do apply.