What is a Listed Building?
A listed building is a building or structure which is considered
to be of 'special architectural or historic interest.'
Many types of structure from cathedrals to telephone boxes are
Listing happens nationally, and each local authority holds a
list of structures in their area, hence the name 'listed
buildings'. Bath & North East Somerset has approximately
6,400 entries on the list.
How are the buildings selected for listing?
English Heritage is responsible for listing, and it does this on
the basis of a set of national criteria.
When a building is assessed for 'listing', both its historic
interest and its architectural interest are considered. Its
condition is not as important a consideration and buildings may be
listed although they are in poor condition.
Buildings are selected for listing on the basis of their
architectural interest, historic interest, close historical
association or group value. Age and rarity are important
What are the criteria for listing
- all buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like
their original condition
- most buildings of 1700 to 1840, though selection is
- between 1840 and 1914 only buildings of definite quality
and character, including the principal works of the principal
- after 1914 only selected outstanding buildings
- buildings that are less than 30 years old, if they are of
outstanding quality and under threat
- buildings less than 10 years are not listed
In selecting buildings for listing particular attention
is paid to
- age and rarity
- special archtiectural interest or social or economic interest
(for example, industrial buildings, railway stations, schools,
hospitals, theatres, town halls, markets, exchanges, almshouses,
prisons, lock-ups and mills)
- technological innovation or virtuosity
- association with well-known people or events
- group value, especially as examples of town planning (for
example, squares and terraces)
What is the difference between the grades?
Listed buildings are graded to show their relative national
importance. The three grades are I, II* and II.
Grade I are buildings of exceptional interest
(nationally only about 2% of listed buidlngs are in this grade)
Bath & North East Somerset has 663 Grade I listed buildings,
one of the highest concentrations in the country.
Grade II* are particularly important buildings
of more than special interest (only about 4% of listed buildings)
Bath & North East Somerset has 157 Grade II* listed
Grade II are buildings of special interest,
which warrant every effort being made to preserve them (94% of
listed buildings) Bath & North East Somerset has 5,598
Grade II listed buildings.
There is no legal difference in the protection afforded by these
What is the relevant legislation?
Current legislation relating to listed buildings is contained
within the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas)
Act 1990, the effects of the Act are explained in
Planning Policy Guidance Note 15: Planning and the Historic
Environment (PPG 15), published September 1994 and Circular 01/01:
Arrangements for handling heritage applications - Notification and
Directions by the Secretary of State; DETR Circular 01/2001;
Culture Media and Sport circular 01/2001
What is 'spot listing'?
Sometimes important buildings have been overlooked in earlier
lists. Anyone can request English Heritage to consider
listing individual buildings or groups of buildings. This
process is known as 'spot listing'.
Can my building by de-listed?
There is no statutory right of appeal, but if you think your
property is not special enough to be listed, English Heritage will
consider requests for de-listing in the same way as listing.
Because listing 'appeals' are non-statutory, applications for
de-listing are not normally considered if a building is the subject
of an application for listed building consent or an appeal against
refusal of consent, or where a local authority is having to take
action against you because of unauthorised work or neglect.
How much is listed?
The whole building or structure is listed, including both its
interior and exterior. Boundary walls and other structures
within the building or structure's historic curtilage may also be
included. There is no such thing as a listed facade or an
interior only, and even modern elements of a building are
included. It should also be assumed that fixtures and
fittings are listed.
If in doubt, ask the Historic Environment Team for advice
on individual cases. List descriptions are intended primarily
for identification purposes and are not a definitive list of
What does owning a listed building mean to
The special character of listed buildings derives not only from
their general form and style, but also from the smallest
detail. Their character is therefore fragile and easily
destroyed, often by well-intentioned but misinformed decisions.
An understanding and appreciation of the historic building is
essential to ensure successful maintenance and alteration.
Before carrying out any works to a historic building find out as
much as you can about its history, development and details, drawing
on information locally available from libraries, museums and
When buying a listed building, any ideas about proposed
alterations should be carefully considered. Proposals should
not be made hastily before their implications are properly
understood. Enlisting the services of a registered architect
or chartered building surveyor familiar with the conservation of
historic buildings and the planning process is strongly
If you are buying a listed building with the intention of adding
major extensions, you must ask if this is the right house for
you. Buildings are listed for their present character and
appearance, which will rarely survive the addition of major
extensions. The setting of a building is also an important
consideration. A small listed building in a big plot does not
always imply room for expansion.
How should I look after my listed building?
Routine maintenance of a listed building is essential if major
repairs are to be avoided.
Traditional materials and technology have proved their worth by
lasting until today and give historic buildings their special
Like should be replaced with like wherever possible.
Consent will often be required for changes and may be required for
Existing fabric should always be repaired rather than replaced
with new work. Whenever work is necessary, it should always
be carefully detailed to avoid damage to old work.
Missing features should only be reinstated where there is good
evidence for their original appearance.
Historic buildings are not the place to experiment with new
techniques. Tried and tested methods should be used wherever
It is sobering to reflect that a significant amount of repair
work is needed to historic buildings to tackle the consequences of
well-intentioned but misguided earlier repairs.
What can and can't I do without consent?
Listed Building Consent is required for any works of demolition,
alteration, extension or stone cleaning which in any way affect the
character of the building as a building of special architectural or
historic interest. In practice, this can mean that even minor
items such as changing a door can require consent. If you are
in any doubt as to the need for consent, please contact the
Historic Environment Team on the contact numbers given.
How do I apply for Listed Building Consent?
Applications should be made on Council forms for Listed Building
Consent. Please click on the link to the right. The
forms are also available from Reception at Trimbridge House, Trim
Street, Bath, BA1 2DP or by telephoning 01225 477632. Full
details of supporting information required are included in the
Notes for Applicants issued with the Listed Building Consent
It may assist and save time if you discuss any proposed works to
a listed building with the Historic Environment Team
before submitting an application for listed building consent.
It is recommended that pre-application discussions are held at an
early stage in the process with the Heritage Team as this will
assist in the processing of your application. Amendments made
after the application is submitted can result in delays.
How long will it take?
The Council should issue a decision on Listed Building Consent
applications within 8 weeks from the receipt of a valid
application. The Council endeavours to deal with all applications
within this period, although this is not always possible. If
a decision is not issued within 8 weeks, there is a right to appeal
to the Secretary of State against non-determination.
For applications affecting Grade I or II* buildings, the Council
must notify the Government Office for the South West (GOSW) where
it intends to grant consent. This usually adds a further 28
days to the process, although the Secretary of State can indicate
that they wish to extend this period. If the period is
extended, there is no time limit. The Council can refuse an
application in these categories without referral to the GOSW.
To avoid frustration over time delays, projects should be
properly planned allowing for the entire process, including
preliminary survey works and any conditions that may need to be
discharged. It is worth compiling a comprehensive package of
works to avoid successive applications.
How much will it cost?
There is no fee payable for making a Listed Building
Consent application. There is however a hidden cost in the
level of drawn detail and supporting information required with an
application, which in the majority of cases means engaging the
services of a registered architect or chartered building
What if consent is granted?
Any works granted Listed Building Consent must normally begin
within 3 years from the date of the consent. Consent may be
issued with conditions attached, such as approval of sample
materials before development commences. Any conditions
attached to the consent must be addressed, and care should be taken
to ensure that builders are working from, and in accordance with,
What if consent is refused?
If consent is refused, or granted subject to conditions which
are considered unacceptable, an appeal may be made to the Secretary
of State. Appeals must be made within six months of the date
of decision. Full details of this process are supplied
with Decision Notices.
What if work is carried out without
Any person who carries out, or causes to be carried out, any
works to a listed building without Listed Building Consent, where
such works affect the character of the building as a building
of special architectural or historic interest will, on conviction,
be guilty of a criminal offence.
Proceedings can be taken for the offence which can result in a
large fine and/or imprisonment. Enforcement action may be
taken to restore the building to its original state or comply
with conditions attached to the terms of any listed building
consent. There is no time limit from taking listed
building enforcement action.
Failure to obtain consent often comes to light during the sale
of a property and may make the building difficult to sell until
unauthorised works are remedied. If you buy a property with
unauthorised works, you become liable for any listed buildng
enforcement action in connection with the unauthorised works.
Will I need any other forms of consent?
This Guidance Note has been produced to assist owners and
prospective owners of listed buildings. Works to a listed building
may also require permission/consents covered by other
Where do I go for specialist advice and
Ask your agent or the Historic Environment Team.
Traditional materials and craftspeople skilled in their use are
usually available. The use of appropriate matierals is
essential to preserve the character of buildings.
Can I reclaim VAT?
New works to listed buildings which have received Listed
Building Consent may be eligible for zero rating. Works of
maintenance or repair are not normally eligible to be zero
rated. Further information on this subject is available from
HM Revenue and Customs advice line: 0845 010 9000.
Are there any grants available?
At the time of publication there are no Council grants for
historic building repair. Owners of Grade I and II*
properties may be eligible for grants directly from English
Heritage. However, there are a wide range of bodies issuing
grant aid and it is always worth telephoning the Projects and
Partnerships Team to check on the latest situation about the
availability of grants.
This Guidance Note largely expands upon information given in
Planning Policy Guidance Note 15: Planning and the Historic
We very much hope that you will support the Council in
preserving and enhancing our built heritage, not just for
ourselves to enjoy, but for future generations.