There are roughly 500,000 listed buildings on the national register of The National Heritage List for England. These buildings are protected by law as they have architectural and historical interests. Over the course of this guide, we’ll look at:

  • What is a Listed Building?
  • How are Listed Buildings chosen?
  • Listed Building Grades
  • Grants for Listed Buildings
  • How do I find out if a property is listed?
  • How to register a building?
  • FAQs

What is a Listed Building?

Listed buildings are old buildings that are worth protecting because they are considered to have architectural and historical interest. All listed buildings are added to The National Heritage List for England. 

Once a building is listed, no matter the grade, the building is now protected by law. Homeowners are required to get planning consent to make changes such as alterations, extensions and demolition to the interior and exterior of the listed property. This is to preserve alterations on buildings that could damage or that are not in keeping with a listed building. 

There are three types of listed buildings:

  1. Grade I for buildings considered to have the highest significance
  2. Grade II* and
  3. Grade II

How Are Listed Buildings Chosen?

If a building or site is considered to be of historical interest or have special architectural features by The Secretary of State for digital, culture media and sport, it will be added as a listed building, but it can also be removed. 

British listed buildings are selected for different qualities, like age. The older the building the more likely it will be considered to be included in the national register for listed buildings. 

In general, buildings built before 1700 that have survived their original condition are listed. Whereas buildings that were built between 1700 to 1840, the majority are listed, with a few selectivities included. 

Buildings from 1840 to 1914, are generally listed because of their unique quality of feature, work of respected architects and technological advances. The majority of post-war buildings are now being considered to become listed buildings. Unlike recent buildings that haven’t stood the test of time yet to be considered. 

 

Architectural Interest

An architectural interest in a British listed building means the building holds importance in regards to its design, craftsmanship, form, design and showcasing technological innovation for its time. It’s as if the buildings have self-expression. 

Historical Interest

A historical interest in a British listed building means the building holds a significant part to the nation’s social, military history, economic, cultural and can have connections to nationally important individuals. There has to be value in the physical interest of the building for it to be protected by listing.

Any structure or erection, and any part of a building, as so defined” – allows any man-made structure, from barns to bridges and telephone boxes to gravestones, to be listed buildings.– The definition of building in The Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Listed Building Grades

Listed buildings are split into three types, Grade I, Grade II* and Grade II. It depends on the type of building which will determine what category a listed building or site will fall under. Below we explain the difference between the three grades in Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales. 

Grade I

Grade I listed buildings or sites that have the highest significance, exceptional interest and merit within the grade lists. 

  • Listed Buildings England and Wales

There are over 9000 listed buildings in England, making Grade I listed buildings 2.5% of the total figure in England and Wales. 

  • Listed Buildings Scotland

Listed buildings and sites in Scotland are categorised as categories rather than grades. Category A is similar to Grade I. The building or site needs to be of “national or international importance”. This can be from an architectural or historical interest.

  • Listed Buildings Ireland

Northern Island uses a similar system to Scotland and their listed buildings and sites are categorised in categories rather than grades. 

Grade II*

Grade II* listed buildings are considered to be slightly more important than Grade II listed buildings.

  • Listed Buildings England and Wales

Listed buildings in England and Wales make 5.8%. 

  • Listed Buildings Scotland

Listed buildings and sites in Scotland are categorised as categories rather than grades. Category B is similar to Grade II*. The building or site needs to be of regional importance like style, historic, architecture or a building or site that may have been altered. 

  • Listed Buildings Ireland

Northern Island uses a similar system to Scotland and their listed buildings and sites are categorised in categories rather than grades.

Grade II

Grade II listed buildings have regulations that help protect their historical and architectural importance. As these buildings are of significant interest making changes such as alterations, repairs, window regulations, renovations and extensions are prohibited unless there is consent from your authority. Learn more by reading our guide on Grade 2 Listed buildings to find out what you can and can’t do with your Grade 2 Listed building.

  • Listed Buildings England and Wales

Grade II listed buildings in England and Wales makes 92%, making Grade II* listed buildings the largest type of listed buildings. They are of important interest which is in interest and effort to preserve and protect the buildings and sites.

  • Listed Buildings Scotland

Listed buildings and sites in Scotland are categorised as categories rather than grades. Category C is similar to Grade II. The building or site is of local importance and must have an architectural and historical interest like traditional buildings, close to their original state or slightly altered. 

  • Listed Buildings Ireland

Northern Island uses a similar system to Scotland and their listed buildings and sites are categorised in categories rather than grades.

Unauthorised Works on Listed Buildings

Making unauthorised changes to a listed building is a criminal offence. If any alterations to the interior and exterior of a listed building have been made without building consent, planning permission, or demolition or heritage assets, this can lead to severe penalties or even a prison sentence. 

Making alterations to a listed building without permission will make you liable to receive a listed building enforcement notice. The notice will allow authorities to reduce or reverse the changes made. The homeowner will have to pay the bill for the work being done, pay a fine or receive a prison sentence. 

If you’re unsure of the change that can or can’t be made on a listed building, we advise seeking professional advice and updating your local authority before making any changes. You can find more information and guidance at historicengland.co.uk.

Grants for Listed Buildings

Once a listed building has been approved for alterations and works to be carried out, research the grants that you may be entitled to receive for the repair and maintenance of historic buildings and sites. Below are the grants you may be able to receive:

How Do I Find Out if a Building is Listed?

You can find out if a building is listed by visiting The National Heritage List for England’s (NHLE) website. You’ll be able to search for ‘listed buildings, scheduled monuments, protected wrecks, battlefields, registered parks and gardens’ by entering the postcode, list entry number or keyword. Or you can use the Listed Building Map, which gives you a clearer understanding of whether your building is listed and what grade it is.

How to Register a Building?

If you care about a historic building or site that you want to preserve from demolition or adjustments, you can apply for the building to be protected. Below we explain how to register a listed building.

  1. Check if the building or site isn’t already being considered or added to the listing. You can search the list here. You can also check if the building or site has been considered before on Heritage Gateway
  2. If the building isn’t listed, then you need to check if the building or site is eligible to be considered as a listed building. You can check the Listing Guidance here
  3. Finally, if the building or site has met all the requirements, you must set up a Historic England Account  before completing the form 

 FAQs

Is it cheaper to buy a listed building?

As listed buildings require special materials to rebuild, the cost will be significantly more expensive than non-listed building materials. A specialist type of insurance is needed for listed buildings that cost more. It will cost more to run and repair a listed building.

When is listed building consent not required?

Consent isn’t required when the work being made on listed buildings is identical to the design, construction, techniques and materials of the building. In that case, only development consent is needed. 

What happens if a listed building burns down?

Your local authority would investigate the fire alongside the police and fire brigade. A decision would then be decided on whether the fire was foul-play, arson, accidental and so forth. This would determine if the local authority would ask the building owner to reinstate the listed building or not. Lastly, the Historic England body would reassess the building and decide if it should remain on the list or not. 

When did listed buildings start?

Listed buildings began in the Town and Country Planning Acts of 1944 and 1947. The foundation for the first listings survey was known as “Salvage Lists”, a heroic wartime list.

Written by Matthew Ashton

I started working in the insurance industry in 2004. Four years later, I left to focus on theological studies, working as a youth worker and then as a ministry director in Seattle, USA. When returning to the UK, I had an opportunity to work for the late Andrew Marchington. I joined his firm as a sales advisor when it had around ten staff members. Within three years, I was Head of Ops with a staff team of over 30 people. After a chance encounter in 2019 with Rachel Living and Will Cooper, I decided to co-start Stanhope and build a high-value home, luxury watch, and jewellery broker synonymous with trust. I love being with Donna, my wife, and four kids when not working, cramming in the odd row, or running when I can. I am fortunate to love what I do and consider it a blessing to grow the Stanhope brand.

Matthew Ashton

Date: Monday 14th March, 5:17pm

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