A quick guide to listed buildings

Thank-you to all the comments that I have received so far, and all of those of you that are viewing my blog. WordPress has a nice feature that shows you were geographically people are situated when they read your blog. Unsurprisingly the views are either in the US or the UK – probably driven by the fact that I am writing in English.

What I did think, was that there were likely to be people in the US who did not know what a listed building was, and what extra tribulations that means. So I thought I would write a quick guide,.

A listed building, in the UK, is a building that has been placed on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. I.e. the building is of special interest and hence you cannot change,  demolish or extend  without special permission. If you do perform any of these and do not ask for permission it is a criminal offence and you will be forced to put the structure back as to how it was before.

There are 3 levels of listing, Grade I – exceptional architectural interesting, Grade II* particular importance nationally and Grade II where every effort must be made to retain the features of the house.

Now when one speaks to people they all tend to think that it is only the outside that is listed – not so: everything in the house is listed. So it means that you need to be very careful with everything that you do. The process for getting planning permission is easy for Grade II (as it is local) but much more tricky for Grade I and Grade II* (which we hope to own) as English Heritage need to give consent.

This can give rise to some weird results. For example to put scaffolding around the house, you need to get planning permission. And there are some horror stories of where people have ripped out some grotty extension made in the 1960s, but the planning officers forced the home owners to put it back!

I have never owned a listed building, so all of this will be journey of discovery, which I will post here. Luckily in the one phone conversation that I have had with the local conservation officer he seems like  thoroughly reasonable chap, so hopefully we shall fall foul of each other. But I do believe we will get to know each other very well!


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