Barn conversion with exposed red bricks and wooden beams

Heritage Architects

Our built Heritage, is the legacy from our past, what we have today and what we pass on to future generations.

It is our responsibility to save, to preserve, to conserve and to enhance.

As accredited RIBA Conservation Architects, we specialise in the restoration, conservation and conversion of all heritage assets including Grade I, II* and II historic buildings. We have also built many new buildings in conservation areas, and in the grounds of listed buildings.

Let’s explain what we do and how we do it…

Conservation & Preservation

walkway view of historic quayside with red brick houses Conservation of historic quayside

Conservation of historic railway arches

Conserve and preserve our built heritage. This is the care and protection of our historic buildings as they are now, so that they can be preserved for future generations to enjoy.

It means looking after our historic and significant buildings, retaining and protecting important original features from harm or destruction.


Repair of damaged structure and fabric. This is the process of restoring a building to something like its original condition. This can involve much research, and a degree of speculation about the appearance of the original structure.

Before – Thatched cob cottage fallen down due to neglect

After – Fully restored cottage

Inevitably buildings fall into disrepair due to neglect or adverse weather. Many of the buildings that we work on are in very poor physical condition due to vandalism, water, rot or insect damage. Our knowledge and hands-on experience of traditional historic building techniques and materials enables us to restore the fabric of buildings with honesty and sensitivity.

Repair of failed brick and stonework

Painstaking repair of historic timbers



external rear view of red brick shepherds hut from field Simple conversion of a cow barn into a holiday let

Barn set up for a wedding with exposed beams Conversion of a large barn into a community venue and theatre

A change of use. Our heritage buildings can sometimes become redundant, empty and neglected.  This is a great opportunity to unlock a building’s potential by giving disused spaces a new use and value. To do this we sensitively convert or enhance the original building into something new and completely different.


Refurbishment and improvements to existing buildings. We can breathe a new lease of life into old buildings by clearing away layers of inappropriate add-ons without losing the character of the original building.

We improve the user’s experience of historic buildings. We re-purpose redundant spaces, remove or form new openings, create new views and vistas and adapt spaces transforming them into welcoming, enjoyable and useful places.

Before – Former pub rear bin store


After – Outbuildings stripped away to form a new pub courtyard



Before – Historic hospital building used as a sports centre


After – Converted to residential use. Alterations to exterior and interiors including new windows and timberwork



modern extension of traditional stone house with large patio area taken at dusk with lights onContemporary extension to the rear of a historic cottage

Traditional extension to the rear of a thatched cottage

We believe the old can be enhanced with the new, allowing our heritage buildings to shine, alongside architecture of our time.

We add traditional or contemporary extensions to historic buildings. These can be structures which enlarge the footprint or can be additional storeys.

glass pavilion with 'floating' roof, stunning sea viewsContemporary extension on a rooftop of an Art Deco building

front view of attractive apartments behind quay New apartments above the restored listed Steam Mill

New buildings in sensitive locations

front view of corner white house with large windowsNew Arts and Crafts house (and housing development) on site of former roman villa within the Conservation Area

Contemporary house surrounded by trees at duskNew contemporary home in the Branksome Park Conservation Area

approach view of contemporary house with sloping ceilings, curved walls and garageNew Art Deco influenced house in the Conservation Area and curtilage of the adjacent Grade II Listed House

We design new buildings in Conservation Areas, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and even Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Sites of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI).

Our designs compliment their sensitive and historic settings. A new contemporary house in the garden of a Listed Building is a good example.

Analysis of typical historic site…

Diagram showing different building stages to existing properties of the quayside

We are guided in our work by the three founding principles of good architecture, as described by Vitruvius,  Roman architect and engineer…

‘Commodity, firmness

and delight’


Don’t start work without approval

It is vital that the appropriate planning permission, such as householder, full planning permission, Conservation Area consent or Listed Building consent, is obtained prior to any building work taking place.

Our understanding of the conservation system, relationships with conservation officers and local authorities can ease the process.

during construction of rear extension to thatch cottage

aerial view of house under construction with large glass windows

Listed Buildings

For expert advice on Listed Buildings, from our Conservation Architect Phil Easton, read our Ask the Architect posts. Follow the links below.

Heritage Portfolio

Check out our range of Heritage Projects in our portfolio

Heritage Projects
interior of converted barn with exposed beams and large open floor space

I can highly recommend Western Design. From the moment I made a random enquiry for advice about planning permission, I was met with friendly and professional advice from everybody.”

David Paul, Primrose villa, Blandford