What is a Listed
Only a small proportion of buildings in Britain (about 2.5%) are listed by
the Department of Culture, Media and Sport as being of special architectural or
historic interest. Listing protects an irreplaceable part of our cultural
heritage from unsympathetic changes and unnecessary destruction.
buildings listed before 1700 which survive in anything like their original form
are listed as most are built between 1700 and 1840. Between 1840 and 1914 the
range of buildings listed becomes more selective. More recent buildings of
special character may also be listed. The special interest of a building is not
always visible; for example, an important ancient timber frame may be hidden
behind later plaster or brickwork.
Lists of Buildings of Special
Architectural or Historic Interest which need special protection are compiled by
the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. These 'Listed Buildings' are classified
into three grades:
- Grade I. - Buildings of exceptional interest, usually judged to be of
- Grade II* - (known as Two Star) -Particularly important
buildings of exceptional interest and of outstanding importance
- Grade II - Other buildings of special interest which warrant every
effort to preserve them.
Scope of the Protection
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport list gives a brief description of each
building in the District, and can be inspected at your local Council Offices.
The whole of a listed building is protected, externally and internally. Consent
is required before such internal features as staircases, fireplaces and doors
can be removed, repositioned or altered.
Listed building control extends
- any object or structure fixed to the building
- any structure or object built before the 1st July 1948 relating to and
forming (or which once formed) an integral part of the curtilage of a listed
building. e.g. outhouses, greenhouses, garden walls, barns, farm outbuildings,
stables and statues.
The Effect of Listing
Listing a building seeks to ensure that:
- important features, both internally and externally, which form the character
of the building, are conserved;
- demolition is only undertaken when it is justified and consent has been
- extensions and alterations must be carried out in such a way that the
character of the building is protected;
- repairs are undertaken following good conservation practice.
The legislation is not intended to prevent alterations or changes to listed
You are legally required to:
- keep the building wind and watertight and structurally sound;
- firstly obtain the necessary consent for any alterations, extension or
Listed Building Consent
All changes which affect the character of a listed building require listed
building consent (LBC) from your local authority. There is no charge for LBC and
there is VAT relief on alterations for which consent is granted (Further
information is available from your local Customs & Excise Department).
Listing does not mean that no changes will be allowed but each proposal will be
assessed individually. Unauthorised work to a listed building is a criminal
offence, and carries heavy penalties.
You need consent to alter extend
or demolish any part of a listed building. This includes for example taking down
chimneys; removing fireplaces, partitions or staircases; replacing windows and
doors, or altering their openings, and any change to the external appearance.
Some apparently minor works can damage the fabric as well as the
appearance of old buildings and should be avoided:
pointing or rendering in place of traditional lime mortars can seriously
- Concrete roof tiles are unsuitable for old roofs and may be too heavy
for the roof timbers.
- Cleaning old brick or timber can often cause damage and
- Sandblasting is always unacceptable.
- Exposed brickwork should never be painted.
- uPVC windows cannot reproduce the character of old timber ones and
are unacceptable in listed buildings.
- Decorative features such as mouldings and ironwork should always be
- Consent should be sought for satellite dishes and gas meter boxes.
- Installing a damp proof course needs special care.
Repairs which do not involve any change do not need consent but
you should be sure that they are necessary. For example, it is often cheaper as
well as more sympathetic to repair rather than replace windows.
In some cases painting a listed building can require consent, and as a
general rule care should be taken to use appropriate colours and paint types
with traditionalrendered or plastered buildings. Please check before carrying
out any repainting.
How to Obtain Consent
The procedure for obtaining listed building consent is similar to that for
obtaining planning permission. Currently, no fees are payable. An application on
forms obtained from the Planning Department must be accompanied by sufficient
details to enable your application to be processed, and you may therefore wish
to use an agent experienced with historic buildings and good conservation
practice. He will also be able to prepare a specification of repair works and
Normally, eight weeks are required to process a listed
building consent application, but this process can be longer in complex cases.
It is important to apply early, so that there is no risk of a decision still
being awaited when works are scheduled to commence. Any works carried out before
consent is granted may have to be undone and the building restored to its
original condition at your expense.
For further information visit www.culture.gov.uk.