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A Really Useful Guide To Listed Buildings

Combining some of the country’s oldest and arguably most beautiful properties, listed buildings are of significant architectural and historic importance.

Spanning a vast range of architectural periods, listed buildings are a diverse collection of some of our most treasured and iconic places from Buckingham Palace to Blackpool Tower and Abbey Road Studios to the Royal Albert Dock.

The Forth Bridge, the BT Tower and even the Johnny Haynes stand at Craven Cottage have listed status!

In this week’s blog we walk you through everything you need to know when it comes to considering buying and renovating a residential listed building.

  • listed building england

What are listed buildings?

For a building to be listed, it must hold special architectural or historic interest.  This could mean that it is of national importance and is therefore worth protecting.  And it’s not just buildings that can be listed.

Registered parks, gardens, monuments and wrecks can all gain listed status.  Even significant battlefields from days gone by can be officially listed.

Listing a building both celebrates its significance, as well as bringing it under the consideration of the planning system.  Whilst this can naturally create challenges when it comes to renovation and upkeep, listing a building ensures that it can be protected for future generations.  It prevents inappropriate alterations that may detract from their special interest and protects them from damage.

As the term implies, a listed building is actually added to an official list called the National Heritage List for England.

The general principles of the National Heritage List for England are:

  • All buildings built before 1700, or between 1700 and 1850 which remain as close to their original condition as possible are likely to be listed
  • Buildings built after 1945 will be subject to particularly careful selection before being listed
  • Any buildings that are less than 30 years old are unlikely to be considered of special architectural or historic significance and so are broadly not listed.

Simply, a building is more likely to be listed the older it is and the fewer surviving examples of its kind there are.

  • listed building residential

How are listed buildings graded?

There are three distinct grades applied to listed buildings according to Historic England.  Their grading depends on the following parameters:

  • Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest – in fact, only 2.5% of listed buildings are Grade I
  • Grade II* buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest – around 5.8% of listed buildings are Grade II*
  • Grade II buildings are of special interest and make up the largest proportion with 91.7% of all listed buildings falling into this class

So, if you live in a listed property, it is most likely to be a Grade II building.

Did you know?

Despite the National Heritage List for England including thousands of listed buildings and sites, the actual number of listed buildings in the UK is still unknown. 

According to the National Heritage List for England, there are around 500,000 listed buildings…but they are still counting…!

  • buying a listed building

Buying a listed building

Unsure if that property of yours or your client’s dreams is listed?

As well as researching the National Heritage List for England, you can find details of all listed buildings on the local authority planning department’s website.  Or, contact the local county council office or reference library for further assistance.

Owning a listed property is undoubtedly a source of considerable pride.  As well as owning a piece of national history, having listed building status can significantly increase the value of a building.

The Listed Property Owners Club is a members organisation and has lots of helpful information on planning, maintenance, specialist suppliers and advice on law and insurance issues.

  • renovating a listed building

Renovating a listed home

As a unique, protected property, a listed building will require consent if you wish to make any cosmetic changes or structural renovations, inside or out.

No part of a listed building is exempt from these restrictions, which even extends to any outbuildings that were built or installed before 1st July 1948.  Boundary walls, structures and objects attached to the property or in its grounds can also be protected.

Gaining prior planning permission is therefore imperative for almost any type of work.  Every listed building is unique and so will be assessed on a case by case basis.  Alterations to a listed building without permission is a criminal offence and can lead to unlimited fines or prosecution.

For more information on UK planning permission regulations visit the UK Government website.

Carrying out repairs to a listed building

The local authority can serve a ‘repairs notice’ under Section 115 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 if they believe that a listed building is not being properly preserved.  It’s therefore worth noting that some grants are available to help with the cost of repairs and alterations from English Heritage, the local authority and the Historic Buildings & Monuments Commission (HBMC).   

The restoration of original stonework can be a challenging and costly expense.  That’s why Haddonstone cast stone is a cost effective solution for the restoration and replication of stone that’s been damaged by exposure or neglect, and for the extension of original stonework features.

  • applying for listed building consent

Applying for listed building consent is vital if you want to make any alterations to a listed property.  This should always be granted prior to any work being carried out.  Whilst you can apply for listed building consent retrospectively, if it is rejected, you will be required to undo any unauthorised work that has been carried out.  As well as being expensive, it can also make the property difficult to sell in the future.

It is recommended that you arrange a pre-application meeting with your local Conservation Officer before submitting your application.  This can help speed up the process and ensure it runs smoothly.   Some authorities will charge a fee for this service.

You can then apply for listed building consent online or in hard copy.  Application forms are available from the local planning authority website or at

For Grade I or Grade II* listed building applications, it is necessary for a pre-application consultation to be held with the following:

How long will my application take?

Most local authorities will provide a decision on small works within eight weeks.

If your listed building consent application is refused, you have six months in which you can appeal.

  • property with front door

VAT on listed buildings

There was a time when renovations and repairs to listed buildings were exempt from VAT.  Since 2012 however, any future work carried out to listed buildings is now subject to the standard rate of VAT at 20%.

There are, however, a few exceptions to this rule and luckily there are still some instances that benefit from zero-rated VAT:

  • Converting a listed non-domestic dwelling into a home
  • Small energy saving works on a supply-and-fit basis (heat pumps, insulation, draught proofing) can qualify for a 5% VAT rate
  • Mobility aids for over 60s qualifies
  • If a listed property can be proven to be empty for two years and the homeowner completes any work within one year of purchasing the property.

If in doubt, consult your local authority or statutory heritage body for more guidance.

  • on site with client

Get the right professional team to help you

As well as consulting your local Conservation Officer, working with an accredited conservation professional who can guide you through the renovation process will help ensure you are in safe hands.

Specialists in listed building conservation

The Architects Accredited in Building Conservation (AABC) register includes a list of architects accredited in conservation.

Similarly, you can find a RIBA Conservation Architect (CA) or Specialist Conservation Architect (SCA) on RIBA’s find a conservation architect service.

Don’t forget that other consultants you employ should be specialists in historic buildings.  This includes structural and mechanical engineers as well as specialist builders and craftsmen who have the right skills and experience to ensure any renovations comply with planning permission and are safely carried out on historic buildings.

The Building Conservation Directory is an online information centre for the conservation, restoration and repair of historic buildings.  It provides an online directory featuring hundreds of companies and suppliers specialising in the conservation of historic buildings, including listed buildings.

Haddonstone is featured in the directory as our cast stonework is the ideal solution for the restoration and replacement of stone that’s been damaged by exposure or neglect, and for the extension of original stonework features.

  • getting listed property help

Listed building restoration – Do’s:

  • Ensure the correct building consent has been achieved on any works carried out by previous owners. This is crucial before buying a listed building.  Unfortunately it doesn’t matter if unapproved works were done before your ownership, you will still be liable.  Checking building consent has been granted may save you a very costly headache in the future.
  • Ensure that your home insurance is suitable for listed buildings. This is really important as standard insurance policies do not always cover the full cost of repairs to damaged listed buildings.  The local Conservation Officer can insist that any damage to the property is fixed using materials similar to the original, or that perfectly match the rest of the house.  This can also require specialist craftsmen or tradesmen, which again may not be covered by typical home insurance policies.
  • Identify and meet with your local Conservation Officer. As well as being your first point of contact for any listed building consent applications you may submit, they will know about the history, special features and regional setting of your property.  The local Conservation Officer will be aware of other listed building owners in your locality, many of whom may have carried out similar renovations or encountered similar issues with their own properties.  Developing a good relationship with your local Conservation Officer will pay dividends!
  • Keep all planning permission consent granted documents. Keep hold of any documents you receive as these will be needed if you decide to sell your property in the future.
  • renovation repairs

But don’t do this when you renovate a listed building:

  • Combine modern repair methods with traditional methods. Specialist renovation companies should be employed when carrying out the majority of repairs to listed buildings.  Modern methods are unlikely to be granted planning permission consent as they can cause irreparable damage to the building.
  • Remove or alter original architectural features. Windows, decorative stonework, doors and fireplaces are often integral to the buildings’ listed status, so it’s best to leave these characteristic features well alone. such as doors, decorative stonework, fireplaces or windows. They are often integral to the buildings’ listed status.
  • Add to, or make significant changes to principal elevations. This includes everything from adding an alarm box, changing chimney stacks, demolishing flues or characteristic features.  Painting or rendering stonework is also forbidden.  If in doubt, consult the local Conservation Officer.
  • Haddonstone restoration at Grade I listed Waddesdon Manor

    waddesdon manor

Architectural stonework for restoration and replication projects

Haddonstone is the ideal solution for the restoration and replacement of stone that’s been damaged by exposure or neglect, and for the extension of original stonework features.

Produced with meticulous attention to detail, our replica stonework is made by our skilled team in our mould making facilities both in the UK and the USA.  Cast stone is more durable and a denser, more consistent material than many natural stones and can therefore be preferable for projects where weathering or erosion may be an issue.  It is also a very cost-effective alternative to natural stone because we can manufacture multiple components in the same design, from a single mould.

Working closely with architects and contractors, many of our standard designs have been replicated from damaged originals at residential properties and impressive buildings around the world.

We’ve supplied stonework for a number of different projects, including Grade I listed Waddesdon Manor, Grade II* listed Scarborough Spa, Coworth Park Hotel, Kinnaird Castle and the Royal College of Music.

Restoration and replication
  • A characterful restored pier cap by Haddonstone

    replacement squirrel pier cap

Our experienced team has assisted in the renovation and restoration of many historic and character properties worldwide, including listed buildings.  Regardless of style, size or age, we can work with you to bring any structure back to life.

Whether the restoration work required is structural or purely cosmetic, we can supply the high specification stonework necessary.

Contact our friendly, experienced team for a free consultation by requesting a call back or phoning or emailing us.

Speak to our team

Whether you’re working on a private residential or large commercial project, or if you are interested in home and garden products, our friendly and expert team are happy to discuss your requirements.

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