Listed Building Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between Grade I, Grade II* & Grade II?
• Grade I buildings are of outstanding architectural or historic interest and are of national importance with only a small percentage falling into this category;
• Grade II* is given to buildings that have some extra merit such as an outstanding interior;
• Grade II listed buildings are of special interest and the majority fall into this group.
Who decides whether or not a building should be listed?
The Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport is responsible for compiling the statutory list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest, based on advice from English Heritage
Can additional buildings be Listed?
Anyone can apply to have a building listed. Applications should be made to English Heritage (via their website), who administers the application process and provides expert advice to the Secretary of State on which buildings meet the criteria for listing. Further information is available on the English Heritage website.
How can I find out if a building is listed?
Details can be found on the council’s Listed Building web page, where an interactive map can be found. The Council make every attempt to ensure that the information is kept up to date. If in any doubt, please contact the Conservation Officer.
Please remember that property names do change and you may need to search under a previous name or number.
What is a list description?
The list description contains the address of the historic building in question. This is the legal part of the document. The description is mainly there to help identify the building (which was very important in the early days of listing when postal addresses could be quite vague). Increasingly over recent years, they have become fuller to give a clearer idea about the building's history, appearance and significance. Recent listings usually contain a brief statement that summarises in architectural shorthand what it is about the building that gives it its special historic interest.
How can I get a copy of a list description?
Copies of the description can be sought from the Conservation Officer using the following form.
Please remember that property names can change so it is worth checking that the description is the correct one for the property you are searching for.
Is the whole of the building included in the listing?
Yes. The whole building is listed. This includes the inside (and layout) as well as the outside along with any object or structure fixed to the building. The area of land around a listed building within the boundaries is known as the ‘curtilage’ and any pre 1st July 1948 building or structure within this area is also deemed to be listed as are the boundary walls, railings, gates and possibly garden features.
What is covered by the listing – is this set out in the list description?
The whole of a building is listed. This includes “objects and structures” fixed to the building such as clocks or internal items such as panelling. The courts have even held that sculptures or paintings can be part of a listed building if they were fixed there as part of the design. The listing description is not a definitive list of important features. It is merely there to aid understanding.
As my building is “only” Grade II listed, surely it is only the outside that is protected?
No! There is a common misconception that the listing covers only the outside of a building or only the main façade. There is no such thing as a partially listed building. The whole structure is covered by listing, inside and out, from the basement to the chimney pots. This applies whatever the grade of listing.
How do I make alterations to a listed building?
Altering listed buildings is a specialist task and you are well advised to ask for professional advice at the outset. The cost of employing an architect or surveyor may well be offset by avoiding unnecessary work. Listed buildings are generally valuable property and poorly thought-through alterations are likely to devalue them.
What is listed building consent?
Listed Building Consent is needed for any work to be carried out to a listed building that would affect its special character and/or appearance in any way. It is a criminal offence to carry out such works without consent.
How can I apply for Listed Building consent?
Listed Building Consent forms can be downloaded from the council website or you can apply online.
The relevant forms can be located here
Is listed building consent different from planning permission?
Yes. The two systems are separate; A listed building application is needed for any works which affect the character of the building as a listed building. There is no simple guide to what this comprises because the judgement must be made in each case. The Council will look at the proposals in their entirety and in the light of possible earlier alterations or extensions. Although internal alterations do not normally require planning permission they will most likely need listed building consent. Certainly removing historic features such as fireplaces, stairs, decorative plasterwork or panelling will usually need formal consent. Any application for LBC must include detailed drawings and information to justify the proposed changes. Without this the application may not even be registered.
How long does it take to obtain Listed Building Consent?
Allow at roughly eight weeks when applying for Listed Building Consent. If works are urgent, you should discuss this with the Planning Services Department.
If the building is Grade I or Grade II*, a longer period should be allowed in order for the local planning authority to undertake the additional consultations required for these special buildings.
What are the implications of owning a Listed Building?
There is no specific duty on property owners to maintain their buildings in a good state of repair (although it is clearly in their interests to do so). However, the Local Planning Authority does have powers to take action if it considered that a historic building has deteriorated to the extent that its future preservation may be at risk.
The Local Planning authority has the following powers:
Under section 54 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 the Local Planning Authority may serve a notice requesting that the owner to undertake those works considered necessarily for the preservation of the property. If the owner fails to carry these works, the authority has permission to execute the works and to recover the cost of these works from the owner(s).
Under section 48 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 the Local Authority may serve a repairs notice on the owner. This notice will specify the works which the Authority considers reasonably necessary for the proper preservation of the building. This is not restricted to urgent works.
If the work hasn't taken place two months after the repairs notice has been served, the authority can start compulsory purchase order proceedings (under This is under Section 47 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990).
However, the first concern is for the upkeep and retention of the Listed Building. as a consequence, the authority will always try to work with the property owners to find the best way forward for the building.
What happens if unauthorised works are carried out on a Listed Building?
If you carry out unauthorised work or do not follow the details of approved plans, you will be in contravention of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. This may result in enforcement proceedings. You will be required to make good any damage or to reinstate any works which are not approved at your own expense. You may also be liable to prosecution as carrying out unauthorised works to a Listed Building is a criminal offence.
Examples of unauthorised works where reinstatement has been required include:
- Installation of new windows, particularly uPVC or stained finished windows which are rarely appropriate in Listed Buildings.
- Poor re-pointing of brickwork.
- External re-painting in a different colour.
- Installation of roof windows.
- Internal alterations (eg: new openings/removal of walling)
- Removal of internal doors.
- Alterations to staircases.
Reinstatement is expensive and inconvenient. You are strongly advised to seek the advice of the Planning Services section before carrying out any works to the building.
When a property is sold, a solicitors’ search/ Homebuyers Pack will highlight all Listed Building Applications made. Failure to follow correct procedures can delay or jeopardise the sale of the property.
How am I affected if I purchase a listed building which has had unauthorised works carried out on it?
If you purchase a property with unauthorised works, you become liable for any listed building enforcement action in connection with the unauthorised works. You are recommended to check if any works have been undertaken before purchasing the property.
Can the Council take any action if a listed building falls into disrepair?
There are powers the Council can use to require owners to carry out urgent repairs to safeguard the future of a building whilst preventing further damage. In certain cases the authority can apply to ‘Compulsory Purchase’ a listed building.
Are there any grants available for repairs to a Listed Building?
Unfortunately, the Council does not offer any grants for the repair or maintenance of historic buildings. However, grants may be available from other sources such as English Heritage.
Where can I find specialist advice?
It is important to obtain expert advice when considering alterations and repairs to Listed Buildings. You are strongly advised to use the professional services of architects and surveyors who specialise in historic buildings. Surveyors can provide advice on the structural condition of the buildings fabric, and works required for its maintenance and repair. Architects are able to provide similar advice but it is particularly important to obtain their specialist advice where alterations and repairs have an effect on historic detail and design. In both cases you should find a consultant who specialises in your type of historic building.
The following specialist organisations and interest groups will be able to provide you with detailed advice or put you in touch with local specialists:
- English Heritage: www.english-heritage.org.uk
- Royal Institute of British Architects: www.riba.org
- Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors: www.rics.org.uk
- The Georgian Group: www.georgiangroup.org.uk
- The Victorian Society: https://www.victoriansociety.org.uk/
- Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB): www.spab.org.uk
- Institute of Historic Building Conservation www.ihbc.co.uk
- The Building Conservation Directory. Source for finding specialist products and services