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Maintaining our Heritage – Listed Buildings

Our conveyancing team explain the steps that need to be taken into consideration when buying a listed building. They look into what classifies a listed building and the procedures that need to be taken when purchasing a listed building, such as planning legislation, listing buildings consent, surveys and searches as well touching upon the recommendations from Historic England.

What is a Listed Building?

A listed building is one that has been classified as having significant architectural or historical importance.  Listing protects the building by law and changes to a listed building are governed under planning legislation.  Listings can also include part of a building or other sites such as monuments, wrecks and battlefields.

Generally, all buildings built before 1700, which survive in anything like their original condition, are listed, as are most of those built between 1700 and 1840.   Buildings are listed in three categories:

  • Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest.  Approximately only 2.5% of listed buildings are Grade I
  • Grade II* buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest.  Approximately 5.8% of listed buildings are Grade II*
  • Grade II buildings are of special interest and it is the most likely grade of listing for a residential property.

Where is the List maintained?

Historic England maintains the list which can be accessed via their website.

Listing allows Historic England to highlight what is significant about a building or site, and helps to ensure that any future changes to it do not result in the loss of its significance.

Changes to Listed Buildings

Any alterations or additions to a listed building should be sympathetic to its character.  This includes internal alterations.  Generally any changes would require listed building consent in addition to any planning consent and building regulations consent.  The local authority conservation officers will provide guidance and information is available on most council’s websites.

In the event of failure to carry out works in accordance with listed building consent or, where works are carried which would have required consent but no consent was obtained, there are a number of options open to the authorities to see that, as far as possible, the listed building and its setting, (for example garden or grounds), are restored to their original state. Unauthorised works may be a criminal offence and authorities may seek enforcement action.  Unlike works carried out without  planning consent, which may after a certain period of time become lawful, the liability for works carried out without listed building consent continue to run and remain attached to the building.  Therefore the liability for the breach transfers to any new owner of the listed building.

Buying a Listed Building

When buying a listed building consideration should be given to its condition.  A survey should be carried out to assess the condition and costs of any likely repairs or maintenance.  Maintaining a listed building can be expensive as the recommendations from Historic England may include using traditional materials and methods which may require specialist contractors who have experience in these types of repairs and materials.

Consideration should also be given to its potential use.  Whilst alterations and additions may be possible with listed building consent, enquiries should be made in advance of committing to a purchase if the purchase is dependent upon making alterations or additions to either the building itself or construction of other buildings within the garden or grounds.

Finally, consideration should be given to the building’s history.  Searches will reveal details of listed building consents granted by the local authority for any works previously carried out to the building.  These should be carefully checked alongside the listing itself.

If you have any questions or queries regarding the above please contact a member of our conveyancing team


Although correct at the time of publication, the contents of this newsletter/blog are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute, legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. Please contact us for the latest legal position.

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