Why are buildings listed?

When properties or other structures are listed, they are added to the National Heritage List for England which holds the official records for listed buildings, scheduled monuments, Registered Parks and Gardens, Registered Battlefields and Protected Wrecks.

Owning a listed property is both a privilege and a responsibility. In a survey conducted last year by Historic England, almost half of listed property owners had lived in their homes for 20 years or more, testament that these properties are much loved and treasured. But there are responsibilities that come with owning a listed property, and here we explore these and look at why buildings and structures are listed.

What is a listed building?

Listing marks and celebrates a building’s special architectural and historic interest, and protects it for current and future generations to enjoy.

A building may be listed due to its age, its rarity, its aesthetic appeal or because it represents just a select few of its kind that are still standing.  It could also be considered significant due to its national interest.

A listed structure can only be altered, extended or demolished with permission from the local council or other government authority.  This means changes to the structure will only be permitted if they respect the character and interest of the building and its setting.

Listed buildings are given a grade based on the level of architectural or historic interest.  There are three main categories of listed buildings in England and Wales:

Grade I – buildings of exceptional interest

Grade II* – buildings of particular importance and of more than special interest

Grade II – buildings of special interest

Most listed buildings in England and Wales are Grade II.

But it’s not just buildings that can be listed.  In essence any man-made structure can be listed. Presently the list comprises of fountains, memorials, and even phone boxes.

There are over 500,000 listed buildings listed in England. If you’re unsure if a building is already listed, you can search on the Historic England website to find out.

Preserving areas of historical interest

Properties and buildings may be listed if they are deemed to be of ‘historical interest’ to the UK’s rich culture. Historic England weight this decision by their Principles of Selection including:

  • Important aspects of England’s social, economic, cultural or military history
  • Close historical associations with nationally important people
  • Some quality of interest in its physical fabric

For example, the iconic Brighton Pavilion is one of the most recognisable listed buildings in the UK. It was built in 1787 by John Nash as a seaside holiday home for George IV, Prince of Wales and has been undergoing structural work since the 1980s. The Brighton Pavilion is a Grade I listed building.


Source: visitbrighton.com

Buildings that have stood the test of time are more likely to be listed. In fact, any building constructed before 1700 (and still remains in the same condition) will be determined as a listed building. Most of the time, a building must be at least 30 years old in order to be considered for listing, but this is not always the case.

Preserving areas of architectural importance

It’s not just historical buildings that may be listed. Even bright and bold post-modern buildings may be contemplated for listing if they are thought to be of ‘architectural interest’. This is defined as buildings with important architectural design, decoration or craftsmanship.

The eye catching Gough Building at the Bryanston School in Dorset has recently been registered as a listed building (Grade I) for its striking post-modern architectural design. Completed in 1988 by CGWZ, the building features large stone columns, playfully designed to look like giant screws.

Source: bournemouthecho.co.uk

Preserving areas of special interest

The final way a building may be considered for listed status is if it is an important example of a particular building type or technique. This may be a building “displaying technological innovation or virtuosity” or has significant plan forms.

The Circus in Bath created by John Wood in 1754 is an exemplary innovative design, with multiple terraced buildings curved tightly around the centre focal point, a collection of old plane trees. The Circus is a Grade I listed building and took 14 years to complete.


Source: 18thecircus.co.uk

Can a listed property be removed from the list?

A listed property may be removed from the list if it is considered to no longer hold special architectural or historic interest.  This may follow an event such as a fire where little of the original structure exists, or maybe follow discovery of new evidence that shows the original listing decision can no longer be supported.  Applications for consideration of a listed buildings status are made to Historic England.

What if a listed building requires repair?

If a listed building requires repair, the owner of the listed building must arrange for the necessary work to be completed by first requesting Listed Building Consent from the Council. The Council decides whether proposed works can then commence. It is a criminal offence to carry out works without such permission being attained.

As listed buildings often require special workmanship and materials, listed buildings insurance must be taken out by the owner of the building to ensure adequate cover is in place.

Intelligent Insurance are specialist providers of listed buildings insurance cover.  We ask the right questions about your listed building so that you can get an immediate online quote in most cases.  Highly trained advisers are on standby ready to give advice should you need help with any element.

Request an online listed building insurance quote or contact the team on 03333 11 11 10.

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