The aim is to demonstrate an understanding of:
- the degree to which the farmstead contributes to the character and local distinctiveness of the area;
- rare or vulnerable fabric including thatch, early timber cladding, wattle and lath infill to timber frames;
- whether the whole group or any individual buildings are rare;
- the architectural patterning - the hierachies of scale, materials, building styles and details - that are relevant and important to maintaining or enhancing the character of the farmstead as a group in its landscape setting.
An assessment of significance identifies valuable features that will need to be protected as part of the farmstead masterplan.
The key factors to consider are:
Survival of the traditional farmstead as a group in its landscape setting - the less the extent of change in the traditional farmstead buildings group, layout and surrounding landscape since c1950 the more valuable the traditional character of the farmstead. Coherent and unconverted groups in the Weald are now rare. The degree of historic survival will range from fragmentary or absent; to groups which, because of the historic survival and functional range of building types, make the strongest contribution to local and landscape character.
Status - listed buildings will require particular consideration, and list entries will include an estimate of the date, historic function and other features. Many important farm buildings in the Weald, however, are not listed. Any pre-1948 working building or structure in the curtilage (legal property boundary at the time of listing) of a listed building can be considered to be listed and therefore covered by listed building legislation and consents. Some farm buildings are included in conservation areas focused on historic settlements.
Date - substantially complete buildings of pre-1750 date are particularly valuable. By national standards, the Weald has a high survival rate of early farmstead buildings.
Style - vernacular buildings make a considerable contribution to the distinctive quality and character of the Wealden landscape. They often use locally available materials, and imported slate and materials as these became available, and will often display evidence for successive change. Designed buildings are usually consistent in their treatment and usually form part of regular-plan groups. Industrially-produced buildings include Dutch barns as used from the later 19th century but did not have a major impact on farmstead character in the Weald until after the 1950s.
Rare surviving building fabric - eg thatch, early timber cladding, wattle and daub infill to timber frames
Special features - the presence of rare surviving historic features such as barns with in situ threshing floors; oast houses with internal kilns; stone/ cobble floors and traditional stalls
Advice from building conservation specialists will be needed for buildings that score highly for significance or vulnerability.