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Altering a listed building

What can or can’t be done?

Listed building consent is required for all works of demolition, alteration or extension to a listed building that affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. This includes internal works and possibly works to buildings and structures within the curtilage.

An application for listed building consent is made to, and determined by, the local planning authority (LPA). Where the works have an impact on the external appearance of the building, planning permission may also be required and if so should typically be applied for at the same time.

Listing is not intended to prevent change. It simply means that listed building consent must be sought for works which might affect the building's special interest. Listed buildings are to be enjoyed and used, like any other building. Listed buildings can be altered, extended and sometimes even demolished within government planning guidance.

In some cases, if you are only carrying out minor works, including for example, alterations to a modern extension to a listed building, it is unlikely to require Listed Building Consent.  If you are proposing to do works to a listed building, however, it is sensible to speak to your LPA to find out whether you need to make an application for Listed Building Consent.  There is also the option to apply and obtain a Certificate of Lawfulness of Proposed Works  to a Listed Building (which is valid for 10 years) which confirms the works described would not require Listed Building Consent.

When a planning authority considers whether to grant or to refuse an application, it must have special regard to the desirability of preserving the building, its setting and those features which make it special.  Listed status covers a whole building, inside and out. Common works requiring consent might include the replacement of windows or doors, knocking down internal walls, painting over brickwork or altering fireplaces.

Pre-application discussions

Before making a Listed Building Consent application, it is a good idea to have what are called “pre-application discussions” with the LPA in order to check if consent is required, to find out of what might be acceptable and whether your ideas need to be adapted to make them more likely to get a consent.  This simple step could save a lot of time and money. The LPA might charge for giving such advice.

How to apply for Listed Building Consent

Listed Building Consent is administered by your Local Planning Authority (LPA). You can download an application form from their website. Advice and guidance can also be obtained by looking at Guidance notes for Listed Building Consent on the Government's Planning Portal website. There is no fee for making a listed building application.

Certain essential works may be covered by a national or local Listed Building Consent Order, or owners and the LPA may enter into a Heritage Partnership Agreement setting out works for which listed building consent is granted (excluding demolition). More details on these recent changes are set out in this link.

How long does it take?

LPAs aim to return a decision on listed building applications within eight weeks. This includes a statutory 21 day consultation period where neighbours, amenity societies and other relevant parties will be consulted.

If the application involves a Grade I or Grade II* listed building, demolition, or is particularly complicated, expert advice may be sought from Historic England. This may also be the case for certain categories of work to Grade II listed buildings.

What happens if consent is refused?

If consent is refused you have six months in which to appeal. Alternatively, you might be able to amend your proposals so that you can hopefully overcome the objections to the previous proposal and re-apply.  The officer who dealt with your application is likely to be willing to discuss the issues with you - this will help you decide how to take the matter further. The Planning Portal has more information about Listed Building Consent appeals.

What happens if work is done without consent?

Carrying out unauthorised works to a listed building is a criminal offence and you can be prosecuted.  A planning authority can require that all work carried out without consent is reversed by serving what is called a “listed building enforcement notice”. You should therefore always talk to the LPA before any work is carried out to a listed building.  Procedures for planning authorities to serve and owners to appeal a listed building enforcement notice are broadly similar to those relating to a planning enforcement notice.  An owner will have trouble selling a property which has not been granted Listed Building Consent for work undertaken.


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