If a building or structure is considered to have special historical interest, it is placed on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. A building can be regarded as especially historic for a number of reasons, including age, architectural importance or iconic influence. In the UK it is estimated there are around 500,000 listed buildings. In some circumstances, owners of a listed building face criminal prosecution for unauthorised alterations or for neglecting to repair and maintain them. Historic England is responsible for the applications of listed buildings in England. In Wales, it is administered by Cadw on behalf of the National Assembly for Wales, and in Scotland, it is managed by Historic Environment Scotland.
The destruction due to the bombings during the Second World War prompted the first listing of buildings that were considered to have architectural importance. With funding from the treasury, 300 members of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and the Royal Institute of British Architects were sent to prepare a list of recommended buildings. The list was initially used to determine the importance of repairing a particular building if it was damaged in the war. The listing process has since somewhat developed, and each part of the UK deals with the process slightly differently.
The following information applies to the guidance for listed buildings in England.
No listed building can be demolished, extended or altered without special consent from the local authority. There are three different categories of listed buildings. Each group has its own rules on the extent of alterations and works that can be performed, subject to the approval of a listed building consent application. It is incredibly important to receive consent from local authorities; it is a common misconception that alterations can be made to the inside of Grade I or II listed properties, but this is not always the case. The following is a brief description of the listed building categories.
Deemed to be of special interest, Grade II listed buildings are by far the most common, with 91.7% of all listed buildings falling into this category.
Grade II* listed buildings are considered to be particularly important building of more than special interest. Only a small percentage (5.8%) of listed buildings are Grade II*.
Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest. In England, 2.5% of the buildings listed are grade I.
Buying a Listed Building
If you are looking to buy a listed building, it is important to remember to employ an experienced conservation Surveyor. Surveys for these types of properties may have to take into account special considerations, and a competent surveyor will have the skills and expertise to understand period house structures.
If you are the owner of a listed building, you must ensure you are covered by the right insurance policy. Extensive damage to a listed building, for example, a fire, have to be repaired and the building restored to its original condition. These types of work can often be expensive as traditional materials, and specialised skills are usually required.
Notable Listed Building in the UK
It isn’t just buildings that can fall under the act, structures are also eligible, and there is a wide variety of listed structures throughout the UK. Bridges, war memorials, archaeological sites and boundary markers are all existing examples. Famous cases of listed buildings include:
Grade I – Tower Bridge in London, Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, Blackpool Tower.
Grade II* – Battersea Power Station in London, Shibden Hall in Calderdale, Rise Hall, East Riding of Yorkshire.
Grade II – BT Tower in London, The Kursaal in Southend-On-Sea, Abbey Road Studios in London.
Martin Perry Associates have extensive experience working with listed and historic buildings. As structural engineers and building surveyors in Cornwall and throughout the west country, we are able to provide advice and guidance on listed buildings, including structural surveys and damp reports. We are also able to design and commission a number of building works from special roof beams to extensions. If you own a listed building are looking to perform structural or building works, contact us via our website or call 01579 345777.