A guide to Planning for Listed Buildings (1/2)

A guide to securing planning for listed buildings (Part 1/2): Listed building consent and Conversions.


The process of getting planning for listed buildings involves a little more than the regular planning applications for new builds. A ‘listed’ building is a structure of particular historic or architectural value which has been added to a list intended to ensure the protection of the buildings included on it. These lists are drawn up by Cadw in Wales, English Heritage in England, and Historic Scotland in Scotland. The English and Welsh grades include Grade I, Grade II*, and Grade II. Most listed buildings are Grade II listed, with some exceptions listed as Grade I (Buckingham Palace, for example).

Building works which will affect a listed building are subject to some additional rules which can restrict any potential changes and also increase the cost of the project, meaning that getting planning for listed buildings can be difficult and is often quite off-putting. It is therefore vital that if you are to take on a listed building with the intention of carrying out any building works that you are fully aware of the job you are about to undertake.

Getting Planning for Listed Buildings

Listed Building Consent

Every listed building has placed upon it a set of regulations which are meant to preserve both the interior and exterior character and structure. Any work which you intend to carry out on such a building will need to be approved with listed building consent. If you were to carry out the work illegally, without consent, then you may be fined. You can discover whether any particular building is listed through English Heritage, Cadw, or Historic Scotland. Your local council’s planning department should also be able to supply this information. When a list grading is applied to a building, it is also applied to any adjoining or attached outbuildings.

The application for listed building consent is usually submitted along with the regular planning application. Your plans will likely have to be more detailed when applying for listed building consent, including details such as the joinery and window designs. The application may therefore be more expensive, although the council does not require any extra fee for this.

Lastly, you must submit a Heritage Asset Statement alongside your application in order to show that you have properly considered the historic asset and the impact which your intended project may have upon it.


Many listed buildings have in recent times been converted for use as residential properties. Buildings such as barns and warehouses make beautiful modern living spaces, and may well have otherwise gone to waste. When carrying out a conversion on a listed building it is important that the character of the original building is preserved as best as possible, including stairways, fireplaces, and original decorative finishes. You will find it very useful to work with a designer who has experience with listed buildings and who will ideally have a good working relationship with the council’s conservation officer.

The attitudes of building officers varies from one officer to the next. Some are very keen to conserve the old, whilst others will welcome the progress and development of the new. However, those who enjoy watching the building evolve may wish you to hold on to some additions from the 1950s, ’60s, or ’70s, which you would rather not keep.

Planning for listed buildings is the same as for planning for non-listed buildings, although due to the building being listed you might find it easier to justify conversion to a dwelling rather than a commercial building. This is because conversion of a listed building is usually much higher in cost.

Click for Part Two.

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