What is a Listed Building?

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport is responsible for preparing a List of Buildings which are regarded as having special architectural and or historic interest. The Listing covers three grades of building.

  • Grade 1- Buildings of exceptional interest
  • Grade II*- Buildings of particular interest and more than just special interest
  • Grade II- Buildings of special interest


The Local Authority is responsible for keeping a List of such Buildings for its area under delegated powers from S of S. The List will show the name of the building, its OS Grid Ref No, its Grade, a description of what is listed (but see below) and refer to a Plan.

Listed Buildings are governed by the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (“the 1990 LB and CA Act).

What Is The Effect Of My Property Being Listed?

The effect of the listing of a building are major. Firstly under Section 1(5) the listing covers

  1. The WHOLE of the Building, even though the listing may only refer to a part of the building, such as an external facade
  2. Any object or structure attached to the Building
  3. Any object or structure detached from the Building, but comes within the boundary of the land in which the  Building is located and has been since 1st July 1948

NOTE: The fact that a feature formerly attached to a listed building but later becomes detached, so as to be a chattel, is still part of the listing

Secondly, Section 7 states that no person shall execute or cause to be executed any work for

a)    the demolition of a listed building provided the demolition is of

  • the whole of the building or a substantial part of the building. (A non substantial part would amount to ‘an alteration’)

b)    the alteration to a building or an extension to a building which would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest

unless the works are authorised by the Local Authority by way of a Listed Building Consent.

There are clearly problems with this definition

  1. What amounts to demolition of a substantial part?
  2. What amounts to works affecting the character of a Building as a special architectural or historic interest? – It is irrelevant whether the affect would be for the benefit of the building- it would still need prior Listed Building Consent.

Thirdly it is a Criminal Offence to carry out works as defined above without a Listed Building Consent. It is the Local Authority who bring the prosecution and for which there are punitive fines, where convicted. In addition there is the cost of putting the Property either back into the condition it was in before carrying out the unlawful works or for corrective works

How Will I Know Whether My Property is in a Listed Building

The designation is recorded as a Local Land Charge in the Local Authority Official Search and therefore should be known to you when you purchase. Alternatively the Secretary of State acting on behalf of the Local Authority or English Heritage may make an application to list your property during your period of ownership.

What Actions Can A Local Authority Take

The Local Authority can enforce past breaches of Listed Building Control at any time and regardless of the fact that breach took place under a previous owner. The owner at the time, the Local Authority takes action, will be financially responsible for all costs to address the issue. 

Prosecution under Section 9- Where the breach was committed by the current owner, that owner also commits a Criminal Offence .

Serve a Listed Buildings Enforcement Notice under Section 38-This Notice must specify the breach, the steps to be taken to remedy the breach and a timeline.

Injunction under Section 44A

Serve a Section 54 Urgent Repairs Notice where the Building is un-occupied- this requires the owner of the building to return to the building to carry out vital repairs- where an owner fails to do so- the Local Authority can carry out the works and register a Financial Local Land Charge to recover the costs.

Apply for a Compulsory Purchase Order to buy the Building- where unauthorised works are or have been done to a Listed Building and the owner has ignored Listed Building Enforcement Notice

What Should I Do Before Buying a Listed Building

  1. Speak to the Local Authority Listed Buildings Officer
  2. Ensure your Surveyor checks the Planning History for the Property and advises on whether any works have been carried out which appear out of keeping with a Listed Building
  3. Take Photographs of the interior and exterior of the Property as a record of the condition and appearance of the Property
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