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Archaeology Matters

Guide to listed buildings

listed buildings

Listed buildings have special requirements. It is important that owners of listed buildings are aware of the law relating to listed buildings, and their responsibilities towards maintenance, alteration, extension or demolition. This guide directs you to further advice and information.

What is a listed building?

A listed building is one which is included on a register called the ‘List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest’, drawn up by English Heritage and approved by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.

How much of the building is covered by listing?

All of it: outside, inside, later additions and alterations as well as original structures, whether specifically referred to in the list description or not. 


The legislation states the listing extends to ‘Any object of structure fixed to the building; and any object or structure within the curtilage of the building which, although not fixed to the building, forms part of the land and has done so since July 1948’.

However, the recent ERR Act allows people to alter their list description to make it more precise.

What is grading?

Listed buildings are classified into three categories:

  • Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest (Less than 2.5% of the national total)
  • Grade II* buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest (Less than 5.5% of the national total)
  • Grade II buildings are of special interest warranting every effort to preserve them (Over 92% of the national total)

Is your building listed?

To find out if you live in a listed building search The National Heritage List for England. It is a database of all the listed buildings in England. For Wales the equivalent search is through the Royal Commission.


How can I get a building listed or delisted?

If you wish to have a building considered for listing or de-listing you should submit an application form to English Heritage. English Heritage assess buildings put forward for listing or de-listing and provides advice to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Listed building consent

Listed building consent is required for all works that affect the special architectural character or historic interest of the building. The system is not intended to prevent change but to make sure that all works are carried out in a sympathetic manner. Seek further advice from the relevant local planning authority.

What are the penalties for unauthorised works?

It is a criminal offence to carry out unauthorised work to a listed building. Penalties can include a term of up to 3 months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £20 000. In more serious cases more severe penalties are available through the Crown Court.

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