Special rules for Listed Buildings

In an earlier blogpost on planning permissions (and Building Regulations), I commented that special rules apply to Listed Buildings and properties in Conservation Areas

Listed Buildings

When a building is described as ‘listed’ it means that it is included on a list of buildings which are considered to be of such special architectural or historic interest as to merit special protection.  The list is drawn up by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, on the advice of English Heritage, which acts as advisors to the government on all matters relating to built heritage.

Most of the country has been surveyed at least once, since listing started in 1947. Listing protects the whole building both inside and out. Each entry in the list includes the address and a brief description to enable the listed building to be clearly identified. Sometimes longer descriptions are included where more is known about the building (particularly with Grade I and II* buildings) or where the listing inspector was able to gain access inside.

Some structures which would not normally be considered to be buildings can also be listed. Walls, statues and pavements are common examples.
Listed Buildings are divided into three categories: Grades I, II* and II. Grades I and II* are of particular national importance. All buildings considered for listing are judged according to a set of national standards depending on their architectural and historic interest and historical associations, including as part of a group of buildings.

The current legislation relating to listed buildings is the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, and Planning Policy Statement 5: Planning for the Historic Environment and its associated Practice Guide, last issued in 2010

It is not the purpose of the legislation to make it impossible to alter a listed building – rather to ensure that particular care will be taken over decisions affecting its future. Alterations need to respect the special architectural or historic interest of the building and the case for its preservation must be considered when determining the merits of any development proposals. Extensions to such buildings may be acceptable but they must be very carefully designed, and must preserve the character of the original building.

Getting Listed Building consent

Listed Building consent, which is separate to any planning permission that may also be required, must be obtained from the Local Planning Authority (“LPA”) – the relevant borough or district council or unitary authority – to alter:
•    any part of the building,
•    any object or structure fixed to the building and
•    any object or structure within the curtilage of the building which dates from before 1 July 1948, which in any way affects its special character.

Consent is required for all extensions or alterations (whether internal or external), although repairs do not usually require consent if they are carried out strictly to match the original materials and construction techniques.

Breach of Listed Building control is a crime – literally

The LPA has powers to prosecute owners of listed buildings and their builders who carry out work without Listed Building Consent, where needed, and the courts can impose a fine, up to twelve months in prison, or both, if the prosecution is successful.


1 Comment

  1. Working with listed buildings requires a sensitive and informed approach and application of particular skills. When appointing a contractor or agent (including surveyors, structural engineers and technicians) it is therefore important to ensure that they are 1. appropriately qualified, and 2. have demonstrable specialist experience of working with listed buildings.

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