Listed Buildings

What is a Listed Building?

A Listed Building is one that has been judged to be of ‘special architectural or historic interest’ at a national level and included on a Statutory List, which is  also referred to as the National Heritage List for England.

The term ‘building’ includes a variety of structures, such as engineering features, monuments, way-markers and boundary stones. Buildings can be listed because of age; rarity; association with nationally important individuals; groups or events; architectural merit; and method of construction. The special interest of a building is not always visible, for example, an important ancient timber frame may be hidden behind later plaster or brickwork. Not all items on the List are what we might conventionally think of as beautiful or attractive – some are included purely for their historical value.

Listing is not undertaken by the Council but by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on advice from Historic England. The list entry includes the address of each building and a brief description which refers to some, but not necessarily all, important features of the building.

Listed Buildings are classified in grades as follows:

  • Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest
  • Grade II* buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest
  • Grade II buildings are of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them

When a building is listed, it has statutory protection. All listed buildings, regardless of their grade, are afforded the same protection by law.

Current legislation relating to listed buildings is contained within the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 

What is included in the Listing?

There is no such thing as a listed façade or exterior only. Irrespective of a building’s grade, the whole of the building is listed. This includes the interior as well as the exterior along with any object or structure fixed to the building. The courts have even held that sculptures or paintings can be part of a listed building if they were fixed there as part of the design.

What is Curtilage Listing?

An area of land that is around and associated with a Listed Building is known as its curtilage. Not all buildings will have a curtilage. A town-centre building with no garden or yard may have no curtilage.

Any object or structure dating from before 1st July 1948 within the curtilage of a Listed Building, such as boundary walls and out-buildings, will also normally be considered as being included in its listing. In most cases, the extent of the curtilage will be clear e.g. where there is an obvious garden boundary which has never changed. In other cases, it may be difficult to establish the curtilage with confidence.  

The following key factors are generally used to identify if a property is curtilage listed:

  • Was the structure constructed before 1st July 1948?
  • Was the structure in common ownership with the principal listed building at the time of listing?
  • Was there a functional relationship between the structures at the time of listing?

This is a complicated area of planning law and if you are unsure you are advised to seek clarification as unauthorised works to a listed building are an offence and liable to enforcement action.

For further information see Historic England’s Listed Buildings and Curtilage advice note for more information on curtilage listings.

Adding or removing a building from the List

The Council is not responsible for adding or removing buildings from the National Heritage List, but it can, along with anyone else, request that a building be added or removed (de-listed). A formal application should be made to Historic England setting out clear and sound reasons, based on the special architectural and historic importance of the building as to why the building should be added or removed. Personal, emotional or economic reasons for a building to be de-listed are unlikely to be considered.