Listed Buildings – what does being listed mean?

Posted by on Jun 14, 2017 in Building Surveying, We Are GLM

Listed Buildings – what does being listed mean?

Many buildings are of architectural or historical interest but, when Historic Environment Scotland consider a building for listing, this interest must be ‘special’. Therefore, a listed building is a building that has been designated as having special architectural or historic interest.

Listed buildings cover a wealth of buildings such as castles, towers, palaces, churches, chapels and mansion house, but also tenements, cottages, stables, doocots, mills, glasshouses and a diverse range of other structures.

The listing does not only protect the external envelop of the building, but the inside too and it normally also includes the area immediately surrounding the building together with any extensions. It may also include garden walls, courtyards and any closely associated buildings and structures, which are collectively known as “the curtilage”. There are some specific situations where the listing may also include, for instance, plant or machinery, as they may be the prime reason for the building’s historic interest. In such cases, internal fittings of interest will protected by law and treated as fixtures integral to the building.  Increasingly the word “significance” is used to describe what is important and worth protecting about a building.

Listing is the way that a building of special architectural or historic interest is recognised in law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

Measures to protect selected parts of the built environment first became law in the UK in 1882, through the Ancient Monuments Protection Act (1882). In Scotland the present day listing process came into existence in 1957.

Over the years there have been additions and amendments to the official list. These changes have resulted from individual requests or organised resurveys and from modifications such as amendment of addresses or descriptions and the removal of buildings from the list because of irreparable damage, or the rectification of mistakes.  The official list usually includes some description of the building or structure and sometimes highlights specific elements but the descriptions are variable in the extent of detail that they contain. If a feature is specifically noted Planning Authorities will often regard this as evidence of its significance but the absence of any mention of a particular feature does not mean that it can be regarded as insignificant.

In Scotland, there are three main principles for selecting a building to be added to the list in accordance to age and rarity, architectural or historic interest, and close historical associations.

Listed buildings in Scotland are categorised as follows:

Category A – Buildings of national or international importance or fine, little-altered examples of a particular period, style or type.

Category B – Buildings of regional or more than local importance or major examples which may have been altered.

Category C – Buildings of local importance, lesser examples or simple traditional buildings which group well with categories A and B or are part of a planned group.

A similar process operates in England where Listed Buildings are graded by Historic England into I, II* & II.

What is the Listed Building Consent?

Listed buildings are primarily managed by the planning system through Listed Building Consent (LBC).  This is a process that is quite distinct from that which applies to buildings that are designated as an Ancient Monument.  In the case of Ancient Monuments there is an equivalent consent process but the presumption is against change.  In the case of Listed Buildings, by contrast, the emphasis is on the management of change.  LBC is the mechanism by which planning authorities control change to listed buildings, ensuring that proposed alterations have been carefully reasoned and considered and are appropriate and sympathetic to the character and significance of the building.

LBC must be obtained whenever demolition or alteration work that may affect the character or the building is intended, and it is a criminal offence not to do so.

This can result in prosecution and a substantial fine.

Listed building enforcement notices can be issued if unauthorised work takes place and you could be forced to restore the building to its former state.  Buildings where unauthorised alterations have been carried out can also be problematical when it comes to selling them.

Our team of professional experts at GLM will be delighted to provide you with guidance and advice on whether any proposed alterations require consent together with an assessment of how likely they are to be approved and the course of action that will result in the best outcome.  We can prepare Conservation Statements and other supporting documentation along with Listed Building Consent applications and steer the application through the Local Authority process.  Commonly in England “Heritage Impact Assessments” are required to accompany applications for Listed Building Consent, which GLM can also provide.

Next week will speak about: Buying a Listed Building

Antonio Cabello, Chartered Building Surveyor