Conservation buildings

Listed buildings

There are almost 300 buildings included on the Council's statutory list of buildings of architectural and historic interest together with 14 designated conservation areas, the appearance or character of which are considered worthy of preservation or enhancement. Within these areas new development and alterations are more closely controlled. The Council also has a local list of buildings of historic or architectural interest which are not on the statutory lists and these too are given extra protection when applications are made for alteration, and their removal would normally be resisted.

The Council aims to give as much assistance as possible in looking after or conserving the valued heritage of the area. Grant of 10% of the costs of essential repairs may be paid to owners following successful completion of agreed repairs, subject to the availability of funds.

If you are thinking of purchasing an old property, and more particularly a listed one or one in a conservation area, please contact the team for advice on what repairs are necessary and what may be accepted in terms of alterations or extensions.

Listed buildings - statutory register

A 'listed building' is a building, object or structure that has been judged to be of national historical or architectural interest.

Under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 it is the duty of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to compile a list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest. This register contains details of the location of the listed building and a brief description of the important historic elements that make up the building. The list is held by the Council.

The main criteria for listing a building are:

  • Architectural interest
  • Historic interest
  • Historic association
  • Group value

All buildings built before 1770 and which survive in anything like their original conditions are listed. Most buildings built between 1700 and 1840 are listed. Those erected after 1840 may be listed depending upon their particular quality. It is now the case that buildings less than 30 years old may be listed if they are of outstanding quality or under threat.

Once listed, buildings are divided into 3 grades I, II and II*. This grading has no legal basis. No listed buildings are of a lesser importance than others because of their grading.

What is included in the listing?

Every part of the building is listed including the interior. In addition to the building itself it has been considered that the following also fall within the definition of the listed building:

  • any structure or object fixed to the building
  • any free-standing object or structure which has formed part of the land since before 1 July 1948

Even if a feature (internal or external) is not included in the description, it does not mean that it is not of interest and it is still part of the listed building.

What work can I do to a listed building?

Owners of listed buildings must be aware that they are looking after an important part of the nation's heritage. When a listed building is taken on the owner or occupier effectively becomes its temporary guardian responsible for its welfare.

Listed building control is much more rigorous than is the case for more conventional buildings and owners and occupiers must be willing to accept this. Consent will be required to demolish a listed building (and normally it will not be granted). Consent will be required for any extension together with alteration or refurbishment which would affect its character. Regular maintenance and minor like-for-like repairs do not always need listed building consent but it always advisable to check with the Council beforehand. It is inappropriate to 'modernise' a listed building in the manner regularly found on other buildings.

It is a criminal offence to carry out work to a listed building without prior listed building consent, even if you did not know that the building was listed.

Please contact the Council’s Conservation Officers for advice on applying for listed building consent.

Advice on all matters is available from the Council.