Listed building consent.

To protect buildings that are culturally and historically important, the United Kingdom has established a program where some buildings get listed. This can limit what types of activities you can perform. However, there is still some confusion about this program and how it works. This can cause some people to take actions that can damage their property. These actions can cause them to experience heavy penalties. To prevent this from happening to you, let’s look at some of the rules that govern how this process works. 


Let’s start by looking at some of the reasons why buildings might be listed. When a building is listed, the government places it on a national registry. This makes sure that they will be protected. This is especially important because most of these buildings are important to the community, adding to the quality of life that people in the area experience. Though there is a range of buildings listed, including castles, cathedrals and village pumps, however, there are a few common reasons why a building might be listed. For example, the building might be architecturally important. This means that elements of their design, craftsmanship or decoration are unique. Also, buildings that are historically important might also be listed. For example, they might show an important part of the military, economic or cultural history of the United Kingdom. Alternatively, the building might have been associated with an important historical figure or event. Finally, some buildings might be part of an important collection of buildings. For example, they might be part of historical terrace houses or a model village. There is a wide range of properties that meet these requirements. For this reason, there are several factors that the council will consider when deciding whether they should list the building. 

There are multiple buildings that are eligible to be listed. This can include buildings that were constructed before the 1700s and are still in their original condition. In addition, most of the buildings that were built between the 1700s and 1840s are eligible. If the property was constructed between 1840 and 1914, the building can be listed, depending on its condition and who the architect was. Between 1914 and 1940, the selection committee will consider how historically or culturally significant the location is. If it was constructed after 1939, the committee would be highly selective, with only a small number of buildings from this time period getting listed. Anyone is allowed to propose listing a building. Once accepted, the building will be added to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. This list is maintained by the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS). There are also multiple categories of listing, depending on how important the selection committee deems the building to be. 

There are three categories that a building can be listed in, depending on how significant it is. What category a building is in will impact on what kind of restrictions the owner faces. Grade 1 buildings are deemed to be the most important buildings. They have the most severe restrictions. Only two percent of listed buildings fit into this category. Next is the Grade 2* category. These buildings are particularly important, with strict restrictions. Four percent of buildings are listed in this category. Finally, you have Grade 2 buildings. Though these buildings are important, they don’t have strict restrictions. This makes it possible for owners to make a range of alterations to the building, with the right approvals. The clear majority of listed buildings are in this category, affecting 94 percent of listed properties. Now that we understand what a listed building is let’s look at the restrictions faced by their owners. 


Before you start a construction project, it’s essential that you contact the local council and get approval. This will ensure that you don’t face heavy penalties. There are multiple circumstances in which you will need to get approval. For example, you will need to seek consent before you can demolish the listed building. In addition, you will have to seek consent if you want to alter or change the property. This includes adding an extension on to the existing building, as this can affect the character of the building, which is the reason it was initially listed. When considering a project, owners will need to be aware of what parts of the property are protected by the listing

There are multiple elements of the property that are protected by the statutes. Obviously, the listed building is protected. However, anything that is attached to the building is also protected; this can include the exterior of the building. In addition, the grounds and additional structures may also be protected, if they have been on the property since 1948. For example, if there is a small outbuilding on the property, even though it’s not connected to the main building, it would still be protected under the Act. This means that you would need to get approvals before you make any alterations to the outbuilding. If you aren’t sure if a structure is protected, you should contact your local conservation officer for guidance. If a project you want to undertake will affect a protected building, you will need to get it approved. Let’s look at how this process works. 

When seeking council approval for a project, there are multiple things that you will need to consider. First, you will need to present a full, detailed plan for the conservation officer. They will not be able to approve an outline for a plan. This ensures that they will be able to get a complete understanding of how the project will affect the listed property. Also, they might request that you use additional controls when working on the project. For example, you might be required to put an enclosure around the property, protecting the listed building from additional damage. This will mean that the project will be more costly to complete. In addition, the changes requested by the conservation officer apply in conjunction with any other parts of the planning process. Finally, you might have to negotiate with the planning officer to get your plan approved. There are multiple conditions that the conservation officer might impose on your proposed plan

In order to protect listed buildings, there are multiple things that the council can request. First, they might want you to preserve some parts of the building. For example, if the façade of the building is one of the reasons that they listed it, the council will want to ensure that it isn’t damaged during the project. If it does accidentally get destroyed, you might need to pay damages. Alternatively, you might be required to fix it, using original materials. In addition, you won’t be allowed to complete any demolition work until you have an agreement over how you will redevelop the area. Generally, the conservation officer won’t approve the demolition until you have approvals for the redevelopment. Finally, you can still apply for approval after unauthorised work has been completed. Once you get this approval, you need to follow the processes it outlines. Also, the people who carried out the unauthorised work can still be prosecuted. Before you start working on any new project, you will need to get it approved by the council. If you don’t, you can incur serious penalties. 

If unauthorised work damages a listed building, the council will take the matter very seriously. This is a criminal activity, so people who do unauthorised work might be prosecuted. Also, as we discussed, you might be required to pay to fix the damages or repair the building. This can be a very time-consuming process, especially if you have to try and source original materials. In addition, it will be very expensive, as you will be responsible for paying for both the tradespeople and the materials. How severe these penalties are might depend on the type of building that was affected. For example, the penalty for demolishing a Grade 1 building might be harsher than if a Grade 2 building was demolished. These laws are filed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.  In addition, the council might consider how much of the building was affected by the unauthorised action. For example, the penalty will be more severe if the whole building was demolished than if part of a wall was destroyed

In order to protect the history and culture of the United Kingdom, the government decided to pass statues which ensure that some significant buildings will be preserved. This list is maintained by the DCOM. If you own one of these properties, there are multiple regulations that affect the kind of projects that you can undertake. Before you undertake anything that could impact on the building, you will need to get approval from the council. If you don’t do this, you could face serious penalties, including criminal prosecution. Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of how this process works and what your legal obligations are. 

This article has been written by Pieter Boyce, founding partner of Boulton & Boyce Surveyors. Find out more about their services at

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