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Listed buildings

A listed building is one which has been considered of sufficient architectural and/or historic interest to warrant special protection within the planning system.

How are they selected?

Listings are made on the basis of:

Special Architectural Interest:

Importance displayed in terms of design, decoration or craftsmanship including intact examples of certain building types (related to both function and form), those demonstrating innovation in style or construction, or those displaying important aspects of historic vernacular tradition. While sometimes certain components of building may be of greater architectural interest than others the over all architectural character and interest of a building derives from an aggregate of its parts.

Special Historic Interest:

Association shown with important aspects of the nation's social, economic, cultural, or military history and/or having an association with nationally important people. Historic interest extends to the fabric of the building and its integrity as an architectural artefact.

What do the grades mean?

Listed buildings are classified into three grades:

  • Grade I buildings of exceptional interest, usually judged to be of national importance
  • Grade II* are particularly important buildings of exceptional interest and of outstanding importance
  • Grade II are other buildings of special interest, which warrant every effort to conserve them

What does listing include?

Listing protects the whole of a building's fabric (inside and outside, front and back, including any extensions made to it), fixtures (objects or items physically attached to a building including doors, fireplaces, skirtings) and any pre-1948 building or structure within the curtilage (including statues, outbuildings, boundary walls).

What is the List Description?

Each listed building has a list description. This is principally to aid identification. While list descriptions will include mention of those features which led a building to be listed, they are not intended to provide a comprehensive or exclusive record of all the features of importance, and the amount of information given in descriptions varies considerably. The full list is held by your council and can be viewed upon request. 

An interactive resource is also available at  Heritage Gateway (opens in a new window)

What requires Listed Buildings Consent?

Consent is required for demolition of a listed building and any alterations which would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest.  The following is a non-exhaustive list of works that usually require listed building consent unless otherwise agreed by your council:

  • Extension
  • Replacement or alterations of architectural components (e.g. windows and doors)
  • Abrasive cleaning of a building
  • Removal or application of internal plaster, external render, claddings or linings 
  • Extensive re-pointing
  • Damp proofing
  • Attachment of signage, external lighting, satellite dishes, alarm boxes
  • Re-roofing including stripping of a multi-layered thatch roof or change in roofing material
  • Insertion of flues and vents
  • Alteration of fireplaces and chimney stacks
  • External painting where a different colour or product is used to that existing, or where surfaces are currently untreated.
  • Removal or modification of structural timbers.
  • Removal or alteration of internal features such as doors, cupboards, panelling, floorboards and staircases.
  • Changes to the plan-form of internal rooms (e.g. blocking-up door openings, removal or insertion of partitions or staircases)
  • Works to to pre-1948 curtilage structures
  • Installation of solar panels or wind turbines

Approved alterations may be eligible for VAT relief. Contact  HM Revenue and Customs (opens in a new window) for further details.

It is necessary for applicants to justify alterations to or demolition of a listed building.  This should be done in terms relevant to an understanding of the impact of the proposed works upon the character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. 

Other consents

Depending upon the situation Planning Permission or Advertisement Consent may be required in addition to listed building consent.  Where applicable applications should be made at the same time. Where a listed building is also a scheduled ancient monument, Scheduled Monument Consent only will be required.

Works within the curtilage of a listed building involving the construction, improvement or alteration of a building, enclosure, pool or fuel container will require Planning Permission

If considering making alterations to a listed building contact your council who will be happy to provide advice. Pre-application advice may be charged.

Repairs to Listed Buildings

Sensitive repair work does not normally require listed building consent, however it is necessary to contact the council in advance of any such work in order that a determination can be made as to whether works qualify as 'repair'. As a rule of thumb 'repair' involves small scale maintenance works (e.g. replacement of a rotted window sill could be considered repair though replacement of the whole or substantial part of a window would be considered alteration and require consent).

A method statement and specification of materials used to carry out a repair job may be requested in advance in order to ensure that works are executed appropriately.  

If considering making repairs to a listed building contact your council who will be happy to provide advice.

Appointing a contractor or agent

Working with listed buildings requires a sensitive and informed approach and application of particular skills. When appointing a contractor or agent (including surveyors, structural engineers and technicians) it is therefore important to ensure that they are 1. appropriately qualified, and 2. have demonstrable specialist experience of working with listed buildings.

A contractor must not go beyond those works for which listed building consent has been specifically granted. Unauthorised alterations or failure to comply with conditions on a grant of listed building consent constitute offences.

Building Regulations

Building Regulations may be applied more sensitively in relation to listed buildings. The impact of applying regulations within a development scheme should be addressed within any application made for listed building consent. It is important to bear in mind that building regulations approval is not the same as listed building consent. Building regulations work which constitutes alteration or addition to of the fabric of a building is likely to require listed building consent.


It is a criminal offence to carry out unauthorised demolition, alteration or extension to a listed building where this would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The offence is one of strict liability and those responsible may be prosecuted.

An Enforcement Notice requiring works of rectification may be issued by the council. Where a building has been neglected to the point at which its special interest is deemed to be at risk the council may issue an Urgent Works Notice and/or a Repairs Notice requiring remedial and/or protective measures. Where purchasing a property it is important to ensure that unauthorised alterations have not been carried out by previous owners as liability for rectification will be passed on.

If you are concerned that unauthorised work is being carried out at a listed building contact the council's Enforcement Officer.

Getting a Building Listed

Requests to list buildings can be made by anyone at any time and should be made to English Heritage, 1 Waterhouse Square, 138-142 Holborn, London, EC1N 2ST.

The application form is available from English Heritage (opens in a new window).  The application should be supported by as much information as possible, including:

  • The address of the building
  • Any information about the building (e.g. its date)
  • Details of specialised function (e.g. industrial building)
  • Historical associations
  • The name of the architect (if known)
  • Its group value in the street scene
  • Details of any interior features of interest
  • Clear, original external and internal photographs
  • Name and contact details of the owner
  • A location map (such as an Ordnance Survey map extract) showing, wherever possible, the position of any other listed buildings nearby
  • Christchurch Logo Listed buildings in Christchurch

    The borough of Christchurch contains almost 300 listed buildings, which form part of its unique character and heritage. These are an asset, not only to the owner but also to the nation. Christchurch Borough Council wishes to work with owners to ensure that the character of listed buildings is retained.

  • East Dorset District Council Logo Listed buildings in East Dorset

    In East Dorset there are currently 690 entries in the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Importance, of which 19 are Grade I buildings and 41 are Grade II*.

  • North Dorset District Council Listed buildings in North Dorset

    In North Dorset there are over 2500 entries in the list of buildings of special architectural or historic importance.

  • Listed buildings in Purbeck

    There are around 1,436 listed buildings of architectural or historic interest in Purbeck.

  • West Dorset District Council Logo Listed buildings in West Dorset

    There are over 6,000 listed buildings of architectural or historic interest in West Dorset and 79 conservation areas. There are 431 scheduled monuments in the district, many of which contain several protected individual features, and there are 17 registered parks and gardens.

  • Weymouth & Portland Council Logo - thumb Listed buildings in Weymouth and Portland

    Listed buildings form an important part of the borough's built environment and make a significant contribution to the history and culture heritage of the area.

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