Please find listed below advice on designated listings. There are also some useful links to guidance available on the Historic England website. These can be found in the Links section at the bottom of this page.

Question: What is a listed building?

Answer : A 'listed building' is a building, object or structure that has been judged to be of national architectural or historic interest.  It is included on a register known as a 'statutory list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest', which is administered by Historic England, a government agency.

Question: What are the different grades of listing?

Answer : Listed buildings are placed in one of three grades which give an indication of their relative importance - Grade I (the highest grade), grade II* and grade II (the lowest grade). Grade I and II* buildings only form a small proportion (about 6% nationally) of the total number of listed buildings.  Although some buildings were given a grade III status on 'provisional lists' when listing was started, these buildings were never subsequently included in the statutory lists.  Until relatively recently, churches were given the different grades A, B, C and '-'. These are now being changed to grade I, II* or II as lists are updated. There are still 12 grade B and 4 grade C churches in the parish of Bath, but a review of the Bath list of buildings currently in progress will alter the grades accordingly. Bath & North East Somerset has a particularly important stock of listed buildings which is highlighted by the fact that 14% (compared with the 6% national average) of the individual listed buildings within Bath parish are listed grade I, B, C or II*. It is important to note that, although the higher graded buildings attract more thorough consultation and/or notification procedures when dealing with applications for consent, the same statutory controls and considerations apply to all listed buildings whatever their grade.

Question: What are the criteria for listing?

Answer : The following are the main criteria used in determining whether to include a building on a statutory list :-       

architectural interest - includes design, decoration and craftsmanship; also includes important examples of particular building types and techniques and significant plan forms; 

historic interest - includes illustrations of important aspects of the nation's social, economic, cultural or military history, close historical association with nationally important people or events; and 

group value - especially where buildings comprise an important architectural or historic unity or fine example of planning - e.g. squares, terraces.

The older a building is, and the fewer the surviving examples of its kind, the more likely it is to have historic importance.  All buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition are listed and most buildings built between 1700 and 1840 are listed. There is a greater selection of buildings erected after 1840 to identify the best examples of particular building types and only buildings of definite quality and character are listed.  Buildings that are less than 30 years old are normally listed only if they are of outstanding quality and under threat.  Buildings less than 10 years old are not listed.

Question: How is a building listed?

Answer : Historic England is responsible for providing information to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport requesting buildings to be added to (or removing them from) the statutory list. Buildings are added in one of three ways :-

  • periodic re-surveys or reviews of lists for particular areas;
  • studies of particular building types to establish relative merit; and
  • spot listing of individual buildings under threat.

There is no requirement to consult the owners before a building is listed, but an inspector will often contact the owners in the absence of a threat to the building.  There is no right of appeal against a listing and no right to compensation for the loss of redevelopment options. Local planning authorities are not responsible for listing buildings but can, where an unlisted building is under threat, serve a 'building preservation notice' which effectively lists the building for a period of six months or until the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport includes the building on the statutory list.

Question: How can I get a building listed or delisted?

Answer : Contact Historic England who will consider a request to list a building or review the status of an existing listed building providing the request is accompanied by adequate information relating to the building's architectural or historic interest.  The current condition and cost of repairing or maintaining a building or plans for its redevelopment are not material considerations in deciding whether a building should or should not be listed.  Such matters can only be tested by submitting applications for listed building consent to the appropriate planning authority. Requests for buildings to be considered for listing or existing listings to be reconsidered, are dealt with by Historic England and not by the Council.  If the matter is of extreme urgency, the Council can consider serving a 'building preservation notice' - see  "How is a Building Listed?" above.  Further details can be found on the Historic England website.

Applications for listing or review of listing should be accompanied by full details, including a justification for adding the building to the list or reconsidering its list status; a location plan showing, wherever possible, the position of adjacent listed buildings; clear up-to-date photographs of at least the main elevations of the building; any information about the history, design and construction of the building; historical associations; the name of the architect (if known); its group value with adjacent buildings and spaces; and details of any interior features of interest.  Although all applications for spot listing will be considered on their merits, applications for listing should not ideally be submitted at a late stage of redevelopment proposals. Applications for de-listing will not normally be considered by the Secretary of State if the building is the subject of a current application for listed building consent, an appeal against a refusal of consent, or if action by the Council is in hand because of unauthorised works or neglect.

Question: How much of my building is listed and how does listing affect structures in the grounds?

Answer : When a building is listed, the listing applies equally to the outside and inside of the building; to any extensions to the building; to any structure attached to the building; and, in many instances, to historical free-standing structures within or defining the grounds/attached land ("curtilage").  Although it is sometimes suggested that extensions or curtilage structures are in some way subsidiary to a listed building, such structures must be treated as part of the building.  The lists include a description of the building principally to aid identification. Absence from the list description of reference to any feature (whether external or internal) does not mean that it is not of interest or is not part of the listed building.  Please contact a Conservation Officer if you want advice, particularly with respect to curtilage structures.

Question: What are the effects of listing?

Answer : You will need listed building consent from the Council to demolish a listed building or to alter or extend it in any way which affects its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. It is an offence to carry out works without the benefit of listed building consent - even if you did not know that the building was listed.  Prosecutions for unauthorised works to listed buildings can result in significant fines or even imprisonment.

Question: What penalties apply if works are started without a necessary listed building consent?

Answer : Any works carried out without a necessary listed building consent will immediately constitute a criminal offence.  Legal action can be taken against anybody who was responsible for the unauthorised works (this includes the owner, professional agent and contractor/s).  If convicted for an offence, significant fines or even imprisonment could result.  In addition to legal action for the offence, the Council can also take listed building enforcement action to ensure that works are carried out to restore the building to its former state or otherwise alleviate the effect of the unauthorised works.

Question: How am I affected if I purchase a listed building which has had unauthorised works carried out on it?

Answer : If you buy a property with unauthorised works, you become liable for any listed building enforcement action in connection with the unauthorised works.

Note: This is an introductory guide and is not a definitive source of legal information.

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