A Practical Guide to Listed Buildings

What is a Listed Building?

Structures or buildings that are of special significance, are classified as listed buildings establishing its architectural or historic value.

Anyone can make a nomination for a building or structure to become listed.

Importantly, a building’s listing includes not only the building itself, but any structures within its boundaries that have been in place since 1948 or prior.

What Sort of Buildings are Listed?

As a rule of thumb, the older a building is, the more likely it is to be listed. For example, any buildings constructed prior to 1700 through to 1850 that are still in their original condition are very likely to be listed.

Those built after 1945, on the other hand, are very carefully selected, and buildings that are less than 30 years old are extremely unlikely to be listed (although special planning regulations may still apply if they are within a conservation area, for example).

To find out if a property is listed, you can easily check the National Heritage List for England.

What are the Classifications of Listed Buildings?

There are three grades of listed building: Grade I, Grade II* and Grade II. Grade I listed buildings are considered to be of exceptional historical or architectural interest. This grade includes only 2.5% of all listed buildings.

Grade II* buildings are also of more than special interest and cover 5.8% of listed buildings. 91.7% of listed buildings fall within the Grade II bracket – this is most often the class that homeowners and developers will deal with.

Some local authorities also have a list of buildings with particular local significance – these are known as ‘local listings’. Although these buildings are not subject to additional consent requirements in the same way that listed buildings are, their significance will be considered during planning applications.

What is Listed Building Consent?

Listed building consent is required for a range of proposed works on a listed building, including demolition (in whole or in part), internal or external alterations and extensions.

This process is separate to planning permission and is needed for any and all works that will affect the unique character of a listed building. This can include things like changing windows, doors, walls and fireplaces.

It’s important to always consult your local planning authority or a town planning consultant when considering making any changes, as it is not always clear whether listed building consent is required.

For example, less obvious elements such as the general layout of the building may be deemed important or historically significant, so it’s always best to be safe and check up on this beforehand.

Works that may require listed buildings consent include (but are not limited to) things like:

  • Removal of internal walls
  • Roofing changes
  • Re-pointing, painting or rendering of walls
  • Changes to external claddings
  • Adding rooflights to the building
  • Removing fireplaces or chimneys
  • removing staircases, skirtings, panelling, floorboards or plasterwork and removing, adding or altering structural elements of the building (including partitions)

If you’re looking to make changes to a listed building, a town planner can guide you through the process of obtaining listed buildings consent and/or planning permission.

Do I Need a Heritage Statement When Applying for Planning Permission that involves a Listed Building?

Yes – as listed buildings are classed as heritage assets, a heritage statement is required when applying for planning permission.

A heritage statement involves assessing the impact of a proposed development on heritage assets (including listed buildings).

To find out a little more about heritage statements, take a look at our Practical Guide to Heritage Statements blog post.  A template is also available as a download within the blog.

Is it illegal to carry out works to a listed building without consent?

It is a criminal offence to carry out work which needs listed building consent without obtaining it beforehand.

It is not a defence to say that the fact that the building was listed was not known.

Unauthorised works to a listed building carry a maximum penalty is two years’ imprisonment or an unlimited fine.


Related Content:

If you’re progressing with a planning application, take a look at our eBook on Application Process for more details on the planning process.

And if you need help to progress a Listed Building development take a look at our blog When to Hire a Town Planner, which also has a download on Steps to Choosing a Town Planner.

Historic England provides general advice about listed buildings and other heritage assets.