Listed Buildings

What are listed buildings in the UK?

The term ‘listed building’ in the United Kingdom, typically refers to buildings and property structures that are included in what is sometimes known as “The National Heritage List for England”. In this particular case, it is more commonly known as a statutory list consisting of “buildings of special architectural or historic interest”.

When a building is ‘listed’, this means that the building is now recognised as having an intrinsic value; within a national context. Therefore, it is legally protected. This also includes holding control and/or authority, over any extensions, demolitions and alteration work, being carried out to the property.

So, by being ‘listed’, this would result in the protection of not only, a property’s interior and exterior structure, but, also any additional structures; including modern extensions, that are attached to the building. The property’s surrounding land that forms a single enclosure with the building, will also be taken into account. This is otherwise known as a curtilage. However; the building’s curtilage would only come into consideration, if the property was built before 1948.

But, please be sure to do your due diligence correctly, as a property’s curtilage can also extend to include the following items:

– Garden walls.
– Any type of outbuilding, such as: sheds/barns and smaller separate buildings belonging to the main property.
– Works of art; e.g.:  sculptures, statues and classical garden ornaments.

The statutory list of “buildings of special architectural or historic interest” typically includes:

– The building’s address.
– The date of the building’s first listing.
– A geographical reference (map) of the building’s location.
–  A description of the listed building.

Having said this, buildings; which, have become listed more recently, will usually carry a more thorough description, of essentially, the significance of the building. This of course, will accompany a map reference, accurately, defining the full extent of the building’s listing.

Listed buildings within England and Wales fall into three separate categories in terms of their significance: Grade I, Grade II* and Grade II, respectively.

According to Historic England, some examples of Grade I, II* and II listed buildings, include:

Grade I (Buildings are of extraordinary interest and of the highest importance.)
Buckingham Palace

Grade II* (Buildings have great importance, holding more than a keen and/or special interest.)
Church of St Luke

Grade II (Buildings holding intrinsic/special architectural or historic interest.)
BT Communication Tower

A bar chart to show the percentages of: Grade I, Grade II* and Grade II listed buildings in England and Wales.

According to the figures, provided by The Listed Property Owners Club, “there are approximately 376,000 listed building entries amounting to over 500,000 listed buildings. It is hard to be precise as one list entry for example, can cover a row of terraced houses.

On the other hand; listed buildings within Scotland fall into the following categories: A, B and C.

Category A listed buildings are usually significant on a national and/or international level, holding historic or architectural value, or by having minimal alterations, dating back to a particular period or style.
Category B listed buildings tend to be of regional significance and of a significant period or style.
Category C listed buildings hold local significance; which, are mostly simple, traditional buildings, or buildings that from part of a group, e.g.: an industrial complex. 

Northern Ireland also adopts a similar system, with their use of: A, B+, B1 and B2 listed grading.

As a homeowner, what impact does this have on the cosmetic renovation and building work that I can do to my home, if it’s listed?

Within the United Kingdom, at least 92% of all listed buildings and homes are listed as grade II. So, as a homeowner, this means that all cosmetic renovations and significant building work will require listed building consent.

This list includes (and is not limited to) the following criteria; which, requires listed building consent:

– Building repairs to a listed building.
– Alterations to the interior structure of the property.
– Demolishing and then re-building features.
– Allowing brickwork and timbers to become exposed.
– Installation of double-glazing. (Windows Regulations)
– Removing interior items, such as fireplaces and panelling.
– Bringing listed properties up to efficient energy standards, in its entirety.
– All renovations and extensions work.

A listed building is legally protected in order to help preserve its heritage and its distinct character as a property. So, it is vital, for listed building consent to be applied for; via local authorities, before any changes are made to a listed building. If approved, homeowners are required to pay a fee for listed building consent. The amount payable will depend upon a number of factors surrounding the size of the building work required. As most listed homes are grade II, it will be wise for the homeowner to consider all hidden costs, associated with owning a grade II listed building. Fortunately, by purchasing ‘listed building insurance’, this will serve to protect you in the event, of an unexpected liability, allowing you to attend to the property’s specialist needs attentively.

Please note, that building and/or renovation work to a listed building without listed building consent, is a criminal offence, carrying severe penalties. If work has already commenced on a listed building, then you may be issued with a listed building enforcement notice. This allows, authorities the power to reverse all alterations and reduce the results of unapproved works done to a listed property.

In addition to this, the homeowner will be expected to pay all restoration costs, and may even be liable for indefinite fines, and in the most extreme case, serving time in prison! During these circumstances, it is possible; however, to apply for retrospective listed building consent. But, please be advised, that if you are not granted consent, you will still be liable for all unapproved work.

So, as a homeowner, it is necessary to consult with local authorities, before undertaking any work to a listed building. Also, it may be worthwhile researching the history of a particular listed home, as obtaining listed building consent can prove to be a lengthy process, requiring a thorough plan, in order to be granted consent.

But fortunately, with the correct professional and legal advice, you will be able to renovate your dream home, whilst, still maintaining the property’s historical heritage.

References & Topic Research (Bibliography)

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