Heritage assets are the parts of the environment that we value for their historic, architectural, artistic and archaeological interest.
Those of national significance can be designated as listed buildings, scheduled monuments, registered parks and gardens, protected wreck sites and registered battlefields. Those of international significance can be designated as world heritage sites. Conservation areas are designated locally and are classed as heritage assets in their own right. There are also many heritage assets which do not meet the strict criteria for national designation but are of local value, these can be recognised on a local list.
Buildings which represent the best of the nation's historic and architectural heritage are listed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, on advice from English Heritage.
Mendip has approximately 240 scheduled monuments which are designated under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 for their national importance.
Within the district there are 11 parks and gardens registered by Historic England for their special historic interest. They make a significant contribution to the heritage and character of the District and are of interest in their own right.
A conservation area is defined in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as: 'an area of special architectural or historic interest the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance.'
There are a large number of non-designated heritage assets in the district that are of local architectural or historic interest and importance.
The council maintains a Heritage at Risk Database as a working tool, helping to illustrate the number of assets at risk within the district and to keep attention focused upon them. It covers all manner of designated assets from churchyard monuments to conservation areas.
Mendip District Council operates a programme of discretionary grant aid to assist in the repair of historic buildings. However, the council only has a finite budget, which may impact upon the level of grant aid available; to check whether funds for this purpose are available contact the heritage conservation section.
Churchyard monuments are an important part of the architectural and historic heritage of Somerset with over 850 protected chest tombs, headstones and ancient crosses.
The 15th Century Bishops Barn is both a Grade I listed building and a scheduled monument situated within Wells Recreation Ground.