Everything You Need To Know About Listed Buildings

Rydal Hall, English Lake District, UK, a historical listed building which is run by the Christian diocese of Carlisle to provide a retreat and conference centre.

What does ‘listed’ mean?

It means that the property is on a national register of buildings with architectural or historical importance. You can check if your property is listed at the following website https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list

What does this mean for buyers?

It means the building is protected and the owners must ensure its upkeep and not make any unauthorised alterations without consent.

Which buildings get listed?

Anything built before 1700 that is still more or less in its original condition. Plus most properties built between 1700 and 1840, along with later structures (1840-1914) that either demonstrate technological advances or were designed by famous architects. And post-1945 buildings are now being added to the list, though only those of particular importance.

Does the building have to be a house?

In short no, all sorts of structures can be listed, a few unusual examples are a petrol station, skate park, pier and the old penguin enclosure at London Zoo!

What’s the difference between a Grade I listed and a Grade II listed house?

In England and Wales, a Grade I building is the most protected structure, being considered of ‘outstanding or national architectural or historical interest’. Very few buildings (2%) come into this category. Grade II starred status (4%) indicates a structure of more than just local interest and Grade II listing (94%) denotes the place is of ‘special architectural or historic interest’.

Can you make alterations to a listed building?

Not without getting Listed Building Consent from the local conservation officer, who is usually employed by the local council. When buying a Listed building you have to make sure the previous owners didn’t carry out any unauthorised work. If they have undertaken unauthorised works and you purchase the property the new buyer will have to remedy the works.

Can any changes or extensions be made?

Yes, but only with the approval of the conservation officer, who will probably insist on the use of bricks, tiles or other materials that match the original. Some listed homeowners view this official as an enemy, but on the whole, it’s best to view the conservation officer as a friend and ally, rather than an obstacle. After all, they have the power to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Does anyone else get a say?

Yes, your local authority has to notify English Heritage of all planning applications for Grade I or Grade II starred properties. Sometimes, applications regarding Grade II homes are also referred to English Heritage as well.

Can you fight a refusal?

Yes, but it will involve a local inquiry called by the Secretary of State.

What about insurance?

As the house must be repaired using traditional methods and materials, the policy will be more expensive than for a modern house.

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