Properties From the Past – Listed Buildings

As the term implies, a listed building is included on a list, the National Heritage List for England. You can use this list to discover whether your home is listed and, if so, what grade it is, as well as what is particularly significant about the building. The three categories of listing are:

  • Grade I for buildings of exceptional interest;
  • Grade II* for particularly important buildings of more than special interest;
  • Grade II for buildings which are nationally important and of special interest.

Grade II is the most likely grade of listing for a homeowner.

All buildings built before 1700 that survive in anything like their original condition are listed, as are most of those built between 1700 and 1840. The listing covers the whole building, including the interior, and other structures attached to it, which may include later extensions or additions.

Just because your property is listed does not mean that you cannot change it, but there are usually restrictions on what changes can be made. An owner of a listed building will need to apply to their local authority for listed building consent for most types of work that affect their property. Conducting unauthorised works to the building is a criminal offence and individuals can be prosecuted, while the local authority can insist that all work carried out without consent is reversed.

For those interested in buying an older property, specialist organisations such as the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) or the Listed Property Owners Club can offer information on historic and/or listed buildings for sale. English Heritage also have an annual Heritage at Risk initiative that highlights problem buildings, some of which are likely to be for sale.

If you decide to buy a listed building, you should, however, bear in mind that a standard home insurance policy might not be adequate. You should get advice from a specialist insurance broker or let your insurer know if your property is listed, as it may require specialist insurance.