10 Important Facts about Listed Buildings

Information 10 Important Facts about Listed Buildings
10 Important Facts about Listed Buildings
    1. Can listed buildings be altered?


Yes, in fact the majority of listed buildings have been altered numerous times, albeit prior to being listed. The legislation that protects listed buildings is designed to safeguard their special historic and architectural character, but this does not mean that you have to live in a museum.

Building conservation is really about managing change, this is done by considering heritage value, utility value and other considerations such as social, economic and environmental matters, all of these must be balanced within the constraints of the legislative and policy frameworks. Changes are often required to listed buildings to enable them to remain fit for purpose in the 21st Century, a failure to do so can result in buildings becoming redundant with no viable alternative use.

All alterations to listed buildings require proper justification, justifying the levelling of your undulating C16 living room floor because your table rocks would not pass muster. Adding a modest well designed extension that harmonises with the listed building and its setting and helps to ensure a sustainable long term future for the building will receive full consideration.

One of the core principals is that you must not do ‘harm’ to a listed building. Just about every alteration causes some harm, but if the harm is less than the harm that may be caused by not allowing the alteration, then the alteration should be consented. Unfortunately subjectivity sometimes creeps into the decision making process and it can sometimes be difficult to convince the planners that your proposal is justifiable.

Some buildings or parts of buildings have greater significance than others and are more sensitive to change. The first step when considering any alteration is to understand what is significant about the building and how the alteration is likely to impact on that significance. From this understanding the proposal can be developed and the change becomes easier to justify. Employing a suitably qualified and experienced professional to do this will speed the process up and give your proposal the best chance of success.


  1. Can listed buildings be demolished?


There is a strong presumption that all or part of a Listed Building will not be demolished, however there are times when part or full demolition becomes, desirable or essential. Demolishing a building or even part of a building regardless of its age, condition, usefulness, or attractiveness will always draw criticism, if the building happens to be listed, the scrutiny will be far more intense and will be considered at national and local level.

There will always be resistance to demolishing a listed building and any proposal to do so must have strong justification. Partial demolition is more common, there are many reasons for this but this can often be justified where the removal of a modern or poor quality part of the building results in an improvement in the overall heritage value of the building or its setting. Total demolition of a listed building is relatively rare but it does occasionally occur, typically this would happen where the condition of the building is dangerous and beyond repair, the building has been shown to have no prospect of a viable and sustainable economic use, or where the demolition of the building would enable development that is considered to bring significant benefits to the immediate or wider area.

can a listed building be altered - Nicholas Price Associates


  1. Do repairs to listed buildings require listed building consent?


In general, minor repairs carried out using matching and compatible materials using the same techniques and carried out by experienced operatives do not require listed building consent, however this is not always the case.

More extensive repairs that could alter or damage the special qualities of the building do sometimes require listed building consent and or planning permission. Examples include extensive repointing or re-roofing, extensive window repairs or anything where there is the potential for well-intentioned but inappropriate repairs to cause harm to the listed building. Proceeding with any repairs without consulting with the planning authority is a risky business and you should always speak with the conservation officer or a consultant before you start work.

There are ways in which you can proceed with repairs and certain alterations without continually applying for listed building consent, these include; Listed Building Heritage Partnership Agreements (HPA) and Local Listed building Consent Orders (LLBCO)

Both of these arrangements involve the blanket granting of extended LBC for a building or a group of listed buildings. An HPA requires the owner of a listed building to enter into a partnership with the planning authority, a LLBCO only requires that the owner of the listed building completes the necessary LLBCO Notice Form and submits this to the planning authority.

LLBCO and HPA arrangements tend to be used with groups of similar buildings where the repair and maintenance requirements are well understood and standard specifications can be applied. The type of work that can be undertaken is clearly prescribed and must meet certain criteria, any departure from the prescribed works will still require an application for listed building consent.


  1. Can listed buildings be de-listed?


Yes. In order to have a building removed from the list it is necessary to prove that the original reason for listing was faulty in some way, or that the building has lost the special architectural or historic interest that led to it being listed.

Buildings are listed for various reasons, including associations with famous people. If for example it was discovered that Paul McCartney had not actually lived in the council house listed by Historic England in 2012 then there would be no historic connection and the house would be delisted. If a listed building was damaged by explosion, fire or some other peril and the architectural interest had been destroyed, then delisting may be justified


  1. Are listed buildings worth more?


Listed buildings do often attract a higher asking price especially those with particularly attractive original features, but many have similar values to unlisted property. Maintaining and insuring listed buildings tends to cost more, rebuilding costs are normally higher and the skills and materials required to repair them come at a premium, this can come as a shock to those people that have not done their homework.

The listed status of a building will inevitably deter a minority of potential buyers but generally speaking listed buildings are highly marketable.

can you install double glazing in a listed building - Nicholas Price Associates


  1. Can you install double glazing in a listed building?


This is a question that we are constantly asked and the answer is, it depends.

If you acquire a listed building and the single glazed windows have historic significance then assume that they must remain single glazed. If some of the windows are modern replacements with no historic significance then there can be an argument for replacing the windows and incorporating double glazing. If you wish to replace a modern double glazed window that was present at the time of listing for a more appropriate style to suit the building then incorporating double glazing is normally possible.

Historic glass was manufactured using different processes and has very different reflective qualities to the monotonous float glass used in most modern windows. It is possible to obtain conservation grade glass which can be incorporated into a 10 mm thick double glazed unit, this allows the frame and glazing bars to be much slimmer and visually more acceptable.


  1. Is all or part of a building listed?


Its common to encounter phrases such as “it’s only the front that’s listed” or “that’s not mentioned in the list description” or “we can do what we want with the inside” In general terms the entire building is listed, the fact that something isn’t mentioned in the listing text is irrelevant, a lot of listed building interiors have never been inspected but, the first time anyone gets a proper look is when the property becomes vacant. Even if there is a modern carbuncle of an extension attached to the building (and there sometimes is) don’t assume that it is not part of the listing because it will be. If there is a particularly nasty 1960s extension spoiling your otherwise pristine and symmetrical Georgian property then its removal will probably be welcomed, but even this cannot be taken for granted. Do not remove, alter or destroy any part of the building without first consulting your conservation officer.


  1. What is curtilage listing?


In simple terms any buildings or structures that existed prior to July 1948 and are situated within the curtilage of a listed building are subject to the same protection as the listed building. The type of curtilage structures and buildings is wide ranging but can include garages, stables, dovecotes, gate posts, and important hard landscaping. Not all buildings will have a curtilage and curtilage can change, every case is different and must be carefully considered. Undertaking works which affect the special architectural or historical character of a curtilage structure is a criminal offence.

Defining the curtilage of a house is not as straightforward as it may seem, there is no statutory definition of the word curtilage but it has been described in case law as ‘the ground that is used for the comfortable enjoyment of a house or other building, and serving the purpose of the house or building in some necessary and useful way’. Other descriptions relating to houses include parking areas, forecourts, lawns, borders, and vegetable gardens. If you are fortunate enough to own an enclosed swimming pool or a pavilion but this is separated from the formal gardens by agricultural land, then this structure is very unlikely to be classed as a curtilage structure, it could of course be listed in its own right.

In the majority of cases the curtilage of a listed building is fairly obvious but things can become complicated where for example a listed farmhouse is surrounded by a number of former agricultural buildings which have been acquired for conversion to residential use. If the barn existed prior to July 1st 1948 and was within the curtilage of the listed farmhouse, then by definition it would be listed as a curtilage building, changing the use class of the building from agricultural to residential would not alter the barns listed status. Difficulties arise when there is a dispute as to whether the barn was ever within the curtilage of the farmhouse. Being agricultural, the barn would have a separate use class to the house and would not necessarily be functionally connected. In planning terms the barn would be considered a separate planning unit not ancillary or incidental to the use of the farmhouse and would not be a curtilage building, and therefore would not be listed.

There have been numerous high profile cases involving disputes over curtilage buildings, you should make sure you and the planning authority are in agreement about what is and what isn’t curtilage before considering any changes.

are listed buildings subject to to building regulations


  1. Are listed buildings subject to building regulations?


Existing buildings listed or otherwise are not required to comply with current building regulations. If you are building an extension to a listed building then this must comply fully with the regulations. If you are making alterations to a listed building then compliance with the regulations can be relaxed in relation to Part L which deals with energy conservation, the amount of relaxation varies according to individual circumstances.

If compliance with building regulations would cause significant harm to the appearance or historic qualities of the building then the regulations will not be imposed, however there are usually opportunity’s for improving the thermal performance of the building which will not impact on its special qualities. Whilst double glazing and external wall insulation are not normally appropriate, it may be possible to offset the benefits by increasing roof space insulation, intermediate floor insulation and installing draft proofing measures. There have been many past instances where over-zealous or poorly informed building control officers have insisted on damaging alterations, this is unlikely to happen now but if you feel the building is being threatened speak to a conservation professional or your conservation officer.

  1. Do listed buildings have permitted development rights?


Permitted development rights allow certain types of development to be undertaken without applying for planning permission, this includes some extensions.

Some of the permitted development rights enjoyed by the owners of unlisted property do not apply to listed buildings or their curtilage. Typically this includes such things as the construction of buildings, boundary walls and fences or the installation or alteration of gas or oil tanks, CCTV cameras or renewable energy equipment. It is important to note that there are some minor differences between English and Welsh regulations relating to permitted development.

Interestingly you may still be able to build an extension to your listed building without planning permission, but it will almost certainly still require listed building consent. In all cases you should speak to a heritage planning consultant or your local planning authority.


  • Tim Nicholson

    Tim Nicholson, Managing Consultant of Nicholson Price Associates - MSc. Conservation of the Historic Environment (RICS), Affiliate member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation, Incorporated member of the Chartered Institute of Building, Member of The Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain.