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Listed building

The Forth Bridge, designed by Sir Benjamin Baker and Sir John Fowler, opened in 1890, and now owned by Network Rail, is designated as a Category A listed building by Historic Scotland.
The Forth Bridge, designed by Sir Benjamin Baker and Sir John Fowler, opened in 1890, and now owned by Network Rail, is designated as a Category A listed building by Historic Scotland.

A listed building in the United Kingdom is a building that has been placed on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. It is a widely used status, applied to around half a million buildings.

A listed building may not be demolished, extended or altered without special permission from the local planning authority (which typically consults the relevant central government agency, particularly for significant alterations to the more notable listed buildings). Exemption from secular listed building control is provided for some buildings in current use for worship but only in cases where the relevant religious organisation operates its own equivalent permissions procedure. Owners of listed buildings are, in some circumstances, compelled to repair and maintain them and can face criminal prosecution if they fail to do so or if they perform unauthorised alterations.

The listing procedure allows for buildings to be removed from the list if the listing is shown to be in error.[1]

Although most structures appearing on the lists are buildings, other structures such as bridges, monuments, sculptures, war memorials, and even milestones and mileposts and the Beatles' Abbey Road pedestrian crossing[2] are also listed. Ancient, military and uninhabited structures, such as Stonehenge, are sometimes instead classified as Scheduled Ancient Monuments and protected by much older legislation whilst cultural landscapes such as parks and gardens are currently "listed" on a non-statutory basis. Slightly different systems operate in each area of the United Kingdom, though the basic principles of listing are the same.



Although a limited number of 'ancient monuments' were given protection under the Ancient Monuments Protection Act 1882,[3] there was reluctance to restrict the owners of occupied buildings in what they could do to their property. It was the damage to buildings caused by German bombing during World War II that prompted the first listing of buildings that were deemed to be of particular architectural merit.[4] 300 members of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings were dispatched to prepare the list under the supervision of the Inspectorate of Ancient Monuments, with funding from the Treasury.[5] The listings were used as a means of determining whether a particular building should be rebuilt if it was damaged by bombing,[4] with varying degrees of success.[5]

The basis of the current more comprehensive listing process was developed from the wartime system and was enacted by a provision in the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 covering England and Wales, and the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1947 covering Scotland. Listing was first introduced into Northern Ireland under the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1972. The listing process has since developed slightly differently in each part of the UK.

Heritage protection

In the UK, the process of protecting the built historic environment (i.e. getting a heritage asset legally protected) is called designation . To complicate things, several different terms are used because the processes use separate legislation: buildings are listed ; ancient monuments are scheduled , wrecks are protected , and battlefields, gardens and parks are registered . A heritage asset is a part of the historic environment that is valued because of its historic, archaeological, architectural or artistic interest.[6] Only some of these are judged to be important enough to have extra legal protection through designation. However, buildings that are not formally listed, but still judged as being of heritage interest are still regarded as being a material consideration in the planning process.[7]

As a very rough guide, listed buildings generally have substantial remains that are visible above the ground whereas ancient monuments are (mostly) below the ground and/or unoccupied.[8]

What can be listed

Almost anything can be listed it does not have to be a building. Buildings and structures of special historic interest come in a wide variety of forms and types, ranging from telephone boxes and road signs, to castles. English Heritage has created twenty broad categories of structures, and published selection guides for each one to aid with assessing buildings and structures. These include historical overviews and describe the special considerations for listing each category.[9][10] Neither Historic Scotland nor Cadw appear to have published comparable guidelines for particular categories (as of June 2011) although both organisations produce guidance for owners.

Procedure for listing or delisting

In England, to have a building considered for listing or de-listing, the process is to submit an application form online to English Heritage. The applicant does not need to be the owner of the building in order to apply for it to be listed.[10] Full information including application form guidance notes are on the English Heritage website. English Heritage assesses buildings put forward for listing or de-listing and provides advice to the Secretary of State on the architectural and historic interest. The Secretary of State, who may seek additional advice from others, then decides whether or not to list or de-list the building.

In Wales, applications are made using a form obtained from the relevant local authority.[11] There is no provision for consent to be granted in outline. When a local authority is disposed to grant listed building consent, it must first notify the National Assembly (i.e. Cadw) of the application. If the planning authority decides to refuse consent, it may do so without any reference to Cadw.

In Scotland, applications are made using a form obtained from Historic Scotland. After consultation with the local planning authority, the owner, where possible, and an independent third party, Historic Scotland will then make a recommendation on behalf of the Scottish Ministers.[12]

England and Wales

The legislation relevant to listing

In England and Wales the authority for listing is granted to the Secretary of State by the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. Listed buildings in danger of decay are listed on the English Heritage 'Heritage at Risk' Register.

In 1980 there was public outcry at the sudden destruction of the art deco Firestone Factory (Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, 1928 29), which was demolished over the August bank holiday weekend by its owners Trafalgar House who had been told that it was likely to be 'spot-listed' a few days later,[13] and the Government undertook to review arrangements for listing buildings.[14] After the Firestone demolition, the Secretary of State for the Environment Michael Heseltine also initiated a complete re-survey of buildings to ensure there was nothing which merited preservation and had been missed off the lists.[15]

In England, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) works with English Heritage (an agency of the DCMS), and other government departments, e.g. Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to deliver the government policy on the protection to historic buildings and other heritage assets. The decision about whether or not to list a building is made by the Secretary of State, although the process is administered in England by English Heritage.[16] In Wales (where it is a devolved issue) it is administered by Cadw on behalf of the National Assembly for Wales[17] and in Scotland it is administered by Historic Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Ministers.[18]

Heritage protection reform legislation in England

There have been several attempts to simplify the heritage planning process for listed buildings in England, which has still (at the time of writing in May 2011) to reach a conclusion.[19]

The review process was started in 2000 by Alan Howarth, then minister at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The outcome was the paper The Power of Place in 2000[20] followed by the subsequent policy document The Historic Environment: A Force for Our Future published by the DCMS and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DTLR) in December 2001.[21] The launch of the Government s Heritage Protection Reform (HPR) report in July 2003 by the DCMS entitled: Protecting our historic environment: Making the system work better, [22] asked questions about how the current designation systems could be improved. The HPR decision report Review of Heritage Protection: The Way Forward green paper published in June 2004 by the DCMS committed the UK government and English Heritage to a process of reform including a review of the criteria used for listing buildings.

The Government also began a process of consultation on changes to Planning Policy Guidance 15 (PPG 15) relating to the principles of selection for listing buildings in England. After several years of consultation with heritage groups, charities, planning authorities and English Heritage, this eventually resulted in the publication of Planning Publication Statement 5 Planning for the Historic Environment in March 2010 by the DCLG. This replaced PPG15 and sets out the government s national policies on the conservation of the historic environment for the England.[7] PPS5 is supported by a Practice Guide, endorsed by the DCLG, the DCMS, and English Heritage[7] which describes how to apply the policies stated in PPS5.

The government s White Paper Heritage Protection for the 21st Century published on 8 March 2007 offered a commitment to sharing the understanding of the historic environment and more openness in the process of designation.[23]

In 2008, a draft Heritage Protection Bill[24] was subject to pre-legislative scrutiny before its passage through UK Parliament. In the event, the legislation was abandoned despite strong cross-party support, to make room in the parliamentary legislative programme for measures to deal with the credit crunch.[25] though it may be revived in future. The proposal was that the existing registers of buildings, parks and gardens, archaeology and battlefields, maritime wrecks, and World Heritage Sites be merged into a single online register which will "explain what is special and why". English Heritage would become directly responsible for identifying historic assets in England and there would be wider consultation with the public and asset owners, and new rights of appeal. There would have been streamlined systems for granting consent for work on historic assets.[26]

Categories of listed building

There are three types of listed status for buildings in England and Wales:[27]

  • Grade I: buildings of exceptional interest,
  • Grade II*: particularly important buildings of more than special interest.
  • Grade II: buildings that are of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them.[28]

There was formerly a non-statutory Grade III, which was abolished in 1970.[29] Additionally, Grades A, B and C were used mainly for Anglican churches in use – these correspond approximately to Grades I, II* and II. These grades were used mainly before 1977, although a few buildings are still listed using these grades.

Listed buildings account for about 2% of English building stock.[30] In March 2010, there were approximately 374,000 list entries[16] of which 92% were Grade II, 5.5% were Grade II*, and 2.5% were Grade I.[31] Places of worship play an important role in the UK s architectural heritage. England alone has 14,500 listed places of worship (4,000 Grade I, 4,500 Grade II* and 6,000 Grade II). In fact, 45% of all Grade I listed buildings are places of worship.[32]

There are estimated to be about 500,000 actual buildings listed, as listing entries can apply to more than one building.

Statutory Criteria for listing

In order to be listed, a building must meet various criteria.[33] The criteria for listing include architectural interest, historic interest and close historical associations with significant people or events. Buildings which are not individually noteworthy may still be listed if they form part of a group that is for example, all the buildings in a square. This is called group value . Sometimes large areas comprising many buildings may not justify listing but are given the looser protection of designation as a conservation area.

The criteria include:

  • Age and rarity: The older a building is, the more likely it is to be listed. All buildings erected before 1700 "which contain a significant proportion of their original fabric" will be listed. Most buildings built between 1700 1840 are listed. After 1840 more selection is exercised and particularly careful selection is applied after 1945. Buildings less than 30 years old are rarely listed unless they are of outstanding quality and under threat.
  • Aesthetic merits: i.e. the appearance of a buildings. However, buildings that have little visual appeal may be listed on grounds of representing particular aspects of social or economic history.
  • Selectivity: where a large number of buildings of a similar type survive, the policy is only to list those which are the most representative or significant examples.
  • National interest: significant or distinctive regional buildings e.g. those that represent a nationally important but localised industry
  • State of repair: this is not deemed to be a relevant consideration for listing. A building can be listed regardless of its state of repair.[33]


  • Any buildings or structures constructed before 1 July 1948 which fall within the curtilage of a listed building are treated as part of the listed building.[34]
  • The effect of a proposed development on the setting of a listed building is a material consideration in determining a planning application. Setting is defined as the surroundings in which a heritage is experienced .[7]

Although the decision to list a building may be made on the basis of the architectural or historic interest of one small part of the building, the listing protection nevertheless applies to the whole building. Listing applies not just to the exterior fabric of the building itself, but also to the interior, fixtures, fittings, and objects within the curtilage of the building even if they are not fixed.[35]

De-listing is possible but rare in practice. One example is the November 30, 2001 de-listing of North Corporation Primary School, Liverpool.

Emergency listing

In an emergency, the local planning authority can serve a temporary listed building preservation notice , if a building is in danger of demolition or alteration in such a way that might affect its historic character.[35] This remains in force for 6 months until the Secretary of State decides whether or not to formally list the building.

Certificates of immunity

If planning permission is being sought or has been obtained in England, anyone can ask the Secretary of State to issue a Certificate of Immunity (CoI) in respect of a particular building. CoIs give certainty to developers proposing works that will affect buildings that may be eligible for listing. To apply for a Certificate of Immunity, it is necessary to submit an application form. Guidance notes are available on English Heritage website.

Altering a listed building

In England and Wales, the management of listed buildings is the responsibility of local planning authorities and the Department for Communities and Local Government (i.e. not DCMS which originally listed the building). There is a general principle that listed buildings are put to appropriate and viable use and recognise that this may involve the re-use and modification of the building.[7] However, listed buildings cannot be modified without first obtaining Listed Building Consent through the relevant local planning authority[36]

Carrying out unauthorised works to a listed building is a criminal offence and owners can be prosecuted. A planning authority can also insist that all work undertaken without consent be reversed at the owner s expense.

Examples of Grade I listed buildings

Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the British monarch, listed Grade I.
Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the British monarch, listed Grade I.
See also Category:Grade I listed buildings for examples of such buildings across England and Wales

Examples of Grade II* listed buildings

The Bank Hall mansion house is a Grade II* listed building, due to the 17th century clock tower, which features an original oak cantilevered staircase.

The Johnny Haynes stand at Craven Cottage is a Grade II* listed building.
The Johnny Haynes stand at Craven Cottage is a Grade II* listed building.
See also Category:Grade II* listed buildings for examples of such buildings across England and Wales

Examples of Grade II listed buildings

See also Category:Grade II listed buildings for examples of such buildings across England and Wales

Mixed designations

  • In 2002, there were 80 seaside piers in England that were listed, variously at Grades I, II* and II.
  • Golden Lane Estate, City of London, is an example of a site which includes buildings of different Grades, II and II*
  • Cobham Park, Kent, is a Listed Landscape (Humphry Repton and older landscape) containing both Grade I structures (Cobham Hall and Darnley Mausoleum) and Grade II structures (ornamental dairy etc.) as well as a Scheduled Ancient Monument (a buried Roman villa).
  • West Norwood Cemetery is the first-ever Gothic-designed cemetery and crematorium which contains 65 structures of Grade II or II*, mainly sepulchral monuments but also boundary structures and mausolea. Additionally it is listed Grade II* on the Register of Parks and Gardens.
  • Derwent Valley Mills includes 838 listed buildings, made up of 16 Grade I, 42 Grade II*, and 780 Grade II. A further nine structures are Scheduled Ancient Monuments.

Locally listed buildings

Many councils, for example, Birmingham City Council, maintain a list of locally listed buildings as separate to the statutory list (and in addition to it). There is no statutory protection of a building or object on the local list. Councils hope that owners will recognise the merits of their properties and keep them unaltered if at all possible.

These grades are used by Birmingham:

Grade A
This is of statutory list quality. To be the subject of notification to English Heritage and/or the serving of a Building Preservation Notice if imminently threatened.
Grade B
Important in the city wide architectural or local street scene context, warranting positive efforts to ensure retention.
Grade C
Of significance in the local historical/vernacular context, including industrial archaeological features, and worthy of retention.

Northern Ireland

The Grade-A-listed Mussenden Temple, County Londonderry[37]

Listing began later in Northern Ireland than in the rest of the UK: the first provision for listing was contained in the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1972; and the current legislative basis for listing is the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991.[38] Under Article 42 of the Order, the Department of the Environment of the Northern Ireland Executive is required to compile lists of buildings of "special architectural or historic interest". The responsibility for the listing process rests with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), an executive agency within the Department of the Environment.[38]

Following the introduction of listing, an initial survey of Northern Ireland's building stock was begun in 1974.[39] By the time of the completion of this First Survey in 1994, the listing process had developed considerably, and it was therefore decided to embark upon a Second Survey to update and cross-check the original information. , the Second Survey had been completed for 147 of Northern Ireland's 547 council wards, and completion is anticipated by 2016.[39] Information gathered during this survey, relating to both listed and unlisted buildings, is entered into the publicly accessible Northern Ireland Buildings Database.[39] A range of listing criteria, which aim to define architectural and historic interest, have been developed by the NIEA, and are used to determine whether or not to list a building.[38] Listed building consent must be obtained from local authorities prior to any alteration to a listed structure.[40]

The scheme of listing is as follows:

  • Grade A: "buildings of greatest importance to Northern Ireland including both outstanding architectural set-pieces and the least altered examples of each representative style, period and type."[41]
  • Grade B+: "buildings which might have merited grade A status but for detracting features such as an incomplete design, lower quality additions or alterations. Also included are buildings that because of exceptional features, interiors or environmental qualities are clearly above the general standard set by grade B buildings. A building may merit listing as grade B+ where its historic importance is greater than a similar building listed as grade B."[41]
  • Grade B: "buildings of local importance and good examples of a particular period or style. A degree of alteration or imperfection of design may be acceptable."[41]

There are approximately 8,500 listed buildings in Northern Ireland, representing 2% of the total building stock.[38] Of these, around 200 are listed at Grade A, 400 at Grade B+, and the remainder at Grade B.[41] Since 1987, buildings within Grade B are separated into Grade B1, which is applied to buildings that qualify on a wider range of attributes, and Grade B2, which is applied to buildings with a narrower range of qualifying features.[41]

Examples of Grade A listed buildings

Examples of Grade B+ listed buildings

Examples of Grade B1 listed buildings


The National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, designed by William Henry Playfair, is a Category A listed building<!-- cite web -->
The National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, designed by William Henry Playfair, is a Category A listed building[48]
In Scotland, listing was begun by a provision in the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1947, and the current legislative basis for listing is the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.[49] As with other matters regarding planning, conservation is a power devolved to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government. The authority for listing rests with Historic Scotland, an executive agency of the Scottish Government, which inherited this role from the Scottish Development Department in 1991. Listed building consent must be obtained from local authorities prior to any alteration to a listed structure.[49]

The scheme for classifying buildings is:

  • Category A: "buildings of national or international importance, either architectural or historic, or fine little-altered examples of some particular period, style or building type."[50]
  • Category B: "buildings of regional or more than local importance, or major examples of some particular period, style or building type which may have been altered."[50]
  • Category C(S): "buildings of local importance, lesser examples of any period, style, or building type, as originally constructed or moderately altered; and simple traditional buildings which group well with others in categories A and B."[50]

There are approximately 47,400 listed buildings in Scotland. Of these, around 8 percent (some 3,800) are Category A, and 51 percent (24,000) are Category B, with the rest listed at Category C(s).[51]

The main stand of Ibrox Stadium, the home of Rangers F.C., is a Category B listed building<!-- cite web -->
The main stand of Ibrox Stadium, the home of Rangers F.C., is a Category B listed building[52]

Examples of Category A listed buildings

Examples of Category B listed buildings

Examples of Category C(S) listed buildings

How to find a listed building

Although the 2008 draft legislation was abandoned, English Heritage published a single list of all designated heritage assets within England in 2011.[63] The National Heritage List for England is an online searchable database which includes 400,000 (most but not all) of England s listed buildings, scheduled monuments, registered parks and gardens, protected historic wrecks and registered battlefields in one place. The legislative frameworks for each type of historic asset remains unchanged (2011).[64]

In Scotland, the national dataset of listed buildings and other heritage assets can be searched online via Historic Scotland,[65] or through the map database Pastmap.[66]

To find a listed building in Wales, it is necessary to contact the appropriate local authority or Cadw. Also British Listed Buildings (website) [67] has sections on England, Wales and Scotland. It can be searched either by browsing for listed buildings by country, county and parish/locality, or by keyword search or via the online map. Not all buildings have photographs, as it is run on a volunteer basis.

The Northern Ireland Buildings Database contains details of all listed buildings in Northern Ireland.[68]

A photographic library of English listed buildings was started in 1999 as a snap shot of buildings listed at the turn of the millennium. This is not an up-to-date record of all listed buildings in England - the listing status and descriptions are only correct as at February 2001.[69] The photographs were taken between 1999 and 2008. It is maintained by the English Heritage archive at the Images of England project website. The National Heritage List for England contains the up-to-date list of listed buildings.[64]

Listed buildings in danger of being lost through damage or decay in England started to be recorded by survey in 1991.[70] This was extended in 1998 with the publication of English Heritage's 'Buildings at Risk Register' which surveyed Grade I and Grade II* buildings. In 2008 this survey was renamed Heritage at Risk and extended to include all listed buildings, scheduled monuments, registered parks and gardens, registered battlefields, protected wreck sites and conservation areas.[71] The register is complied by survey using information from local authorities, official and voluntary heritage groups and the general public. It is possible to search this list online.[72]

In Scotland, a buildings at risk register was started in 1990 by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS)in response to similar concerns at the number of listed buildings that were vacant and in disrepair. RCAHMS maintain the register on behalf of Historic Scotland,[73] and provides information on properties of architectural or historic merit throughout the country that are considered to be at risk.

In Wales, at risk registers of listed buildings are complied by local planning authorities and CADW produced a report in 2009.[74] The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales's (RCAHMW) Emergency Buildings Recording team is responsible for surveying historic buildings threatened with destruction, substantial alteration, or serious decay.

Equivalent status outside the United Kingdom

For other countries' equivalents see List of heritage registers.

See also


External links

ar: cs:Listed building de:Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest es:Monumento clasificado (Reino Unido) fr:Monument class (Royaume-Uni) it:Monumento classificato he: nl:Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest no:Bygningsvern i Storbritannia pl:Zabytki Wielkiej Brytanii pt:Listed building simple:Listed building th:

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