A Guide to Listed Buildings
If you own a listed property, you should see it as both a privilege and a huge responsibility. Whilst some of the most beautiful homes in the UK are listed, they come with a few complications and obligations when it is under your control.
The special status will bring prestige and will increase the value of the property quite substantially. If you are willing to invest time and the necessary care and money into your property, a listed property can surely thrive and add to the preservation of Britain architectural history.
Why are buildings given a listing status?
Across the country, there are an array of different types of listed properties which come in all shapes and sizes. When property is seen to be of ‘architectural or historical interest’ it is added to a list of the buildings register of listed properties. The idea is that being on the list protects the property from being modified in an inappropriate fashion or from being poorly maintained by any of the current or future owners.
Minor repairs and restorations are usually accepted. However, most home-improvement projects are subject to listed building consent. Likewise, if the local council deems that you are not looking after your listed property correctly or are having it altered without their consent, they are within their rights to take action to secure repairs at your expense – they may even make a compulsory purchase order.
How do I know if my home is listed?
The older your home, the more likely it is to be a listed building. Across the span of the UK, there are around half a million listed properties at present. These include buildings which were built before the year 1700 which still survive in their (or close to) their original condition.
If you are curious to find out whether your property is a listed one, you can search your address on one of these relevant governing bodies:
- England: Historic England – this site holds the complete list of all listed properties.
- Scotland: Historic Environment – offers a searchable list.
- Wales: Cof Cymru – has a searchable map
- Northern Ireland: Department for Communities – this holds a database of all historic buildings.
Categories of Listed Buildings
Across the UK, the listing categories vary. In England and Wales, there are three main grades which are: I, II and II*.
You will find that most listed buildings are given a Grade II status, these are properties which are seen as of special interest. Around 92% of properties are Grade II.
Only a small 5% are listed Grade II*. To gain this status, a property has to be of more than special interest.
Buildings which are deemed of outstanding or national architectural or historic interest only make up 3% listed as grade I.
Can you make changes to a listed property?
As mentioned, a listed property has a protected status, but this does not prevent all changes being made. In fact, it has been found that most applications to make changes to a listed building are actually approved.
The aim in listing a property is to make people aware that the building needs to be treated with special care and preserved in any way possible. If you apply to make changes to your listed property, an assessment will take place to evaluate the impact the proposed changes may have on your property before they can be approved. This will usually be carried out by a conservation officer who is part of your local authority planning department.
For any like-for-like type repairs, they much aim to match the existing materials and details of the original property. If this is plausible, then there should no issue with making these changes. ‘Improvements’ however, may have to be reversible.
You are also able to extend your listed property, within means of approval. Designs which show a clear distinction between the old and the new can expect to be rejected unless it is something like a glass room extension.
Like with minor repairs, it is important when building an extension to use similar materials to the original. This will probably result in your extension having to remain quite simple in nature.
To appease the local authorities as well as saving yourself from heartbreak, it is best to go about hiring an architect who has experience in listed buildings.