In England, over 374,000 buildings are listed, but exactly what does that mean and how will it affect you?
There is a great deal of confusion as to what restrictions might be placed on a listed building and for many, the problems that are perceived to be associated with owning one are often enough of a concern to deter them from making a purchase.
This, however, would be a shame because if you really like a property and would love to make it your home, then a listed building status should not necessarily put you off.
Which Buildings Get Listed, and Why?
Virtually all buildings that were built before 1700 are listed unless they have been altered or rebuilt to such an extent that they no longer resemble the original building at all.
Similarly, most buildings up to 1840 are also listed. More recent buildings can be listed but they have to be of exceptional importance or interest. Generally, no building less than thirty years old would get listed status.
There are three grades of listed building in England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all operate their own schemes.
Grade 1 is the highest level of listing and is reserver for the very finest buildings and for those of exceptional importance. Only 2.5% of listed buildings are listed Grade 1. These buildings are more than just important in a UK context; often they have features that make them internationally important.
Grade II* listed buildings are almost as important as those with Grade 1 status. Around 5.5% of all listed buildings are Grade II*.
The remainder, some 92% of all listed buildings, have Grade II status. This means that they are locally or nationally important but not internationally so. This is the grade that is most likely to affect people buying property in which to live.
So What Does Listed Building Status Mean To The Property Owner?
English Heritage is the organisation that operates the listed building scheme but listings have to be approved by a government minister. The Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport is the person currently responsible for making listing decisions, based on recommendations made by English Heritage and other factors.
Just because a building is listed that does not mean that it is to be preserved, never again to be touched by a builder’s hands. A listing is not a preservation order but is simply what it says, a listing.
Listed buildings can still be repaired, extended and modified but planning permission will be required for almost any such work and the implications of the work on the building’s character, function and appearance will be taken into account before deciding whether to grant that permission.
So, if you owned a listed building then you would have to apply for “Listed Building Consent” for any proposed changes that might affect the special interest for which the building was originally listed.
In essence, you will need to obtain Listed Building Consent for any proposed work that would affect a listed building if that work involves alterations or extensions. If you intend to demolish the building or do any work that will affect its character or appearance then if the building is of special architectural or historic interest consent will certainly be required.
The Listed Building Consent does not replace planning permission however, you still need to apply for planning permission as well, just as for any other building, listed or not.
If you are unsure as to the status of a particular building, you can look at the records in the National Heritage List for England and find out whether it is listed and, if so, at what grade.
Owning a listed building can certainly be a challenge and many things that should be straightforward, can be a bit more time consuming. However, the pleasure to be had from living in such a historic and important place normally far outweighs these disadvantages so if the building you really want is listed – don’t let that put you off owning your dream home.