Listed buildings FAQs
Does listed status apply to the whole building?
Yes - when a building is listed it refers to the whole building (interior and exterior) and any object/ structure which is within its curtilage.
Buildings are listed on the ‘List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest’, under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. In the act, any object or structure fixed to the building is part of the listing. Also, any object or structure within the curtilage of the building, which although not fixed to the building forms part of the land and has done so since before 1 July 1948, is also treated as part of the listed building.
How do I find out if a building is listed?
In the first instance, you should search the National Heritage List on the Historic England website.
If you're unsure whether a building is listed, or what may be included within the listing, please contact the Historic Environment Team. In instances of uncertainty, it's generally easier that we advise direct to avoid the danger of someone thinking the building is not listed, and going ahead with unauthorised works.
What are the different grades of listing?
Listed buildings are placed in one of three categories, which gives an indication of their importance:
- Grade I – buildings of exceptional interest (around 2% of listed buildings)
- Grade II* – buildings of particular importance and of more than special interest (around 4% of listed buildings)
- Grade II – buildings of special interest, which represent an important part or our built heritage (around 95% of listed buildings)
Grading can be changed where re-evaluation takes place after damage or alteration, or as more evidence of a building’s history or architectural quality comes to light, but the statutory controls on alterations apply equally to all listed buildings whatever the grade.
What information does listing include?
The National Heritage List entry includes the list entry number, date the building was listed and information about its location. The list entry also includes a description of each building, which may refer to some, but not all, important features of an historic building. Every part of a building is listed, including the interior and any later alterations or additions.
Even if a feature (internal or external) isn't included in the description, it doesn't mean that it's not of interest, and it's still part of the listed building.
What are the effects of listing?
You'll need our consent to demolish a listed building, or for any alteration or extension which would affect its character, fabric or appearance as a building of architectural or historic interest. The need for listed building consent is different from planning permission, but the process is very similar.
How do I apply for consent?
You'll need to complete a planning application. Applications can be submitted online or by paper copy via the national Planning Portal website. The listed building consent process is very similar to the planning process, and for most cases it will take eight weeks to process an application.
Advice to owners or developers and their professional agents is an important part of the listed building application process, and our conservation officers are available to discuss your proposal before you submit your application. Advice can be given on appropriate alterations and extensions to historic buildings. Except for the simplest applications it's advisable to employ an agent who is familiar with our policies and procedures.
If you're in any doubt, you should check with the conservation officer whether planning permission or listed building consent is needed before starting any work to a listed building.
What works can I carry out to a listed building without consent?
Regular maintenance and 'like for like' repairs
These don't need listed building consent, but it would be required if the repairs include removal of historic material or changes to its character. For example, internal alterations that include removal of historic doors, fireplaces or plasterwork, or replacement of external doors or windows would require consent. However, repainting or redecoration and installing new bathroom or kitchen fittings wouldn't normally need consent.
Internal painting and decorating
This doesn't need listed building consent, but any external painting may require consent as it may affect the character of the listed building. Replacement of modern kitchen and bathroom fittings doesn't require consent. Refurbishment involving the removal of internal features such as doors, fireplaces, plasterwork, panelling or other historic fittings constitutes alterations, and listed building consent is required before work can be carried out.
Advice on maintenance and repairs
Please do contact us if you're unsure whether you need permission, or for more advice on what type of work requires listed building consent, as the effect is not always straightforward.
What are the criteria for listing?
Age and rarity
All buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition are listed, and most built between 1700 and 1840.
Buildings of importance because of their design, decoration and craftsmanship; also important examples of particular building types and techniques, and buildings of significant plan forms.
Illustrations of important aspects of the nation’s social, economic, cultural or military history.
Close historical association with nationally important people or events.
Especially where buildings comprise an important architectural or historic group or a fine example of planning, eg squares, terraces or model villages less than 30 years old are normally listed only if they're of outstanding quality and under threat. Buildings are not listed until they are at least ten years old.
How is a building listed?
A building can be added to the list in one of three ways:
- periodic re-survey of a borough or district
- studies of particular building types eg post-war
- spot listing of individual building under threat
There's no requirement to consult the owners before a building is listed, but unless an inspector is aware of a specific threat, they will contact the owner or leave a visiting card. There's also no right of appeal against a listing and no right to compensation for loss of redevelopment opportunities.
How can I get a building listed or delisted?
Historic England will consider a request to review a listing provided the request is accompanied by new evidence relating specifically to the architectural or historic interest of the building. Evidence about a building’s condition and cost of repairing or maintaining it, or redevelopment plans, can't be considered.
You don't need to be the owner of the building. Historic England doesn't normally consider a request for de-listing when:
- there's a current application for listed building consent relating to the building
- there's an appeal against refusal of consent
- if any legal action is being taken by the local authority.
Historic England receive a high number of applications for designation, and therefore resources are directed to those applications most in need of attention. Applications for designation will only be taken forward where the building or site:
- is demonstrably under threat of demolition or major alteration
- is a Designation Department priority under Historic England’s programme of strategic work
- possesses evident significance, and is obviously worthy of inclusion on the National Heritage List
Any request for a listing review should be accompanied by:
- a justification for adding (or deleting) a building
- location plan
- clear up-to-date photographs
- any other historical information on the building
Can I do emergency work to a listed building?
Emergency work can be carried out to a listed building without prior consent providing you can subsequently prove all of the following:
- that the works were urgently necessary in the interest of safety or health, or for the preservation of the building
- it wasn't practical to secure or preserve the building by works of repair or temporary support or shelter
- that the work was limited to the minimum measures immediately necessary
- that notice in writing, justifying in detail the work to be undertaken, was given to us as soon as was reasonably practicable
What policies apply to listed buildings?
We seek to preserve listed buildings, their settings and any features of architectural or historic interest. We wouldn't normally approve an application to demolish a listed building, allow alterations that would involve the loss of historic parts of the building or obscure the original plan form, layout or structural integrity, or otherwise diminish the historic value of listed buildings.
We also aim to keep listed buildings in their original use or, if this use no longer exists, in another use that causes least harm to the building. Many buildings can sustain some sensitive alterations or extensions to accommodate continuing or new uses, but listed buildings vary greatly in the extent to which they can be changed without harm to their special architectural or historic interest.
Additional detailed guidance is included in the government's Planning Policy Statement 5 - Planning and the Historic Environment.
Contact Historic Environment Team
- Abbey Foregate
- SY2 6ND