What Makes a Building Listed

What are listed buildings and what does it tell you about the building and how does it affect you if you are the owner?

The concept of listed buildings was introduced during World War II as a way of determining which buildings should be rebuilt if they were damaged by bombing. Shortly after the war there was the first list of buildings of special historical or architectural importance compiled. In England, listed buildings are designated by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, acting on advice from English Heritage. English Heritage assesses the building and any material, provided to support an application and then makes a recommendation.

The criteria for listing a building are summarised as follows:

  • It is an interesting work of a local architect of merit or good examples of an architect of importance and influence

  • It forms part of an important architecturally sensitive streetscape or is part of a larger group built to a single design or purpose

  • It is a complete or early example of specific building type or built with a pioneering form of construction

  • It is a very rare survival of a specific type, which is an historically important part of an area or an industry’s history

  • It has a definite architectural quality, or an expression of a technical or social innovation of the period, such as pumping stations and lunatic asylums

  • This means that it is nearly impossible for what might be described as ordinary Victorian architecture, such as terraced housing, however attractive, to be listed

What is the difference between grade 1 and grade 11* and 11 listing depends on the historical importance of the property. Some grants and forms of funding for renovation is not available for grade 11 listed buildings. A listed building does not mean that it can never be altered, demolished or developed, but by requiring the owner to get listed building consent for the work and providing interested parties with an opportunity to comment or object, it ensures that the special historic and architectural interest of the building is taken into account in any planning decisions relating to the property.

It is not true that only the facade of a listed building is protected. Listing covers all parts of the building, including the interior. Listing also protects some fixture and fittings, as well as outbuildings, boundary walls and all other structures within the property’s boundary. Listing protects the house as it was at the time it was added to the list, so even if you want to reinstate something that was there originally such as a fireplace, you may still need to apply for listed building planning consent. The conservation officer in your local planning office will be able to give you advice. If you want to find out if your home is listed, or if there is a property you are interested in purchasing is listed then go to www.heritagegateway.org.uk or again check with the local planning department.

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