Can I make changes to a listed building?

Alterations and extensions

Preserving the special interest and setting of listed buildings is important. If you want to alter or extend a listed building you need to justify your proposals, to show why works which would affect the character of a listed building are desirable or necessary. 

Before going to the expense of drawing up detailed plans or committing yourself to acquiring a listed building it is a good idea to discuss your proposals on the basis of sketch drawings with our planning officers.  Find out more about our Pre Application Process.

Change of use

There are a number of types of listed buildings which are no longer used for their original purpose. They include mansions, schools and churches. The key to successful conservation, when the original use of a building is no longer possible, is to find a new use in sympathy with the building's original purpose which involves neither change to the structure nor adverse effects on its character and surroundings.

Repair and maintenance

As an owner of a listed building you are encouraged to keep it in good repair.

Repairs should be consistent with conserving the historic fabric of the building using appropriate materials. In a timber-framed building for example, structural timbers should be repaired by consolidation, strapping or bracing rather than by complete replacement of members of the frame. Old brickwork should not be cleaned using mechanical methods or caustic materials, which remove the historic surface "patina".

Major repairs may require Listed Building Consent. Occasionally, it may be necessary to remedy previous work if it was badly done, but restoration to some conjectural past appearance should not be attempted.

If an owner fails to properly preserve an historic building we may, as a last resort, serve a "Repairs Notice" specifying the work that should be carried out. If the work is not done within the specified time limit, we can compulsorily purchase the building and carry out the work. In these circumstances the price payable will reflect the condition of the building. We are also empowered to execute urgent basic repairs without acquiring the building, and to charge the costs to the owner.

Demolition

Listed Building Consent is needed to demolish all or part of a listed building. Demolition of a non-listed building in a Conservation Area requires consent. It is for the person applying to demolish to provide clear justification for this course of action.

Where, in very exceptional circumstances, consent to demolish a listed building is granted, Historic England must be informed. Following the grant of Listed Building Consent, Historic England must be given at least one month before work is commenced in which to make a record of the building or alternatively, they must say that they do not want to record it.

What penalties are imposed if I do work on a listed building without permission?

It is an offence, liable to prosecution, to demolish, extend, or alter a listed building in a way that affects its character without first obtaining Listed Building Consent. The penalties on conviction are heavy.

If unauthorised works are unsympathetic to a listed building, we can take enforcement action. This may require a building to be restored to its former state, or specify action designed to alleviate the effect of those works done without Listed Building Consent.

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