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Listed Buildings In England

listed buildings

What Does Listing Mean ?

Historic buildings are a constant reminder to all of the work and way of life of earlier generations.

The country's rich historic and architectural inheritance is identified and protected through a process of listing. Under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has a statutory duty to compile lists of buildings of special architectural or historic interest.

Listing ensures that the architectural and historic interest of the building is considered carefully before any alterations to the exterior or interior can be sanctioned.

The lists comprise a wide variety of structures - from castles to railway viaducts. Buildings can be listed because of:

  • age
  • rarity
  • architectural merit or method of construction
  • The older a building the more likely it is to be listed

Who Administers The System ?

English Heritage, an independent body, is the government's statutory adviser on conservation issues and policy and is responsible for advising on the listing and scheduling of buildings and monuments.Anyone can request the Government to list any building, but not all proposals are successful. Inspectors will make an initial appraisal based on written information sent to them. If the proposal is not rejected, a site inspection will be made followed by a recommendation that the building be listed.


All properties considered for listing are judged according to a set of standards and graded to reflect their relative architectural and historic interest.

Grade I - buildings of exceptional interest

Grade II* - particularly important buildings of more than special interest

Grade II - of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them.

Buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition are listed, as are most of those built between 1700 and 1840. Post-1945 buildings have to be exceptionally important to be listed. Normally a building has to be over 30 years old to be eligible for listing. Buildings less than 30 years old would normally only be listed if they were of outstanding quality and under threat. Buildings less than 10 years old are not listed.


If you wish to demolish a listed building or to alter or extend it in a way that affects its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest, you must apply for listed building consent from your local planning authority. Once added to the list a building is protected by law. It is an offence to demolish, alter or extend a listed building without listed planning consent.

Consent is also necessary for alterations or extensions to any object or structure within the grounds of a listed building, such as gates or garden walls as well as buildings ancillary to the principal building.

Before starting any work - even painting - you should consult your local planning authority. Listed building consent is in addition to any planning permission needed. For most owners, however, applications for both can be considered. Listed buildings consent applications are free.

Planning permission alone is not sufficient to authorise demolition.

Certain of the developments relating to dwelling houses permitted by the Town and Country Planning General Development Order do not apply to listed buildings. Advice on such matters can be obtained from your local planning authority.

If you are granted listed building consent to demolish a building, either in part or wholly, the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments must be informed to make a record of it.


It is possible to get financial help for the repair of buildings of outstanding architectural or historic interest.

English Heritage are a major source of grants awarding millions of pounds each year for repairs to historic buildings and ancient monuments. Grade I and Grade II* buildings may be eligible for English Heritage grants for urgent major repairs

Local authorities may also award grants for any building of architectural or historical interest and are not restricted to outstanding buildings or even to listed buildings.


If an application for listed building consent is refused by a local planning authority, or granted subject to conditions, the applicant has a right of appeal to the Secretary of State.

The procedure of appeal is almost identical to the procedure for appealing against a refusal of planning permission.

Where To Obtain Further Information

The full English national list is kept by English Heritage at:

National Monuments Record,
Kemble Drive
Swindon SN2 2GZ

For advice on how to get a building listed, or on listing generally contact:

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
London SW1 5DH

For information on English Heritage, contact:

Customer Services Department
PO Box 569
Swindon SN2 2YR