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Listed buildings

A listed building has been formally declared to be of special architectural or historic interest by being placed on statutory lists compiled by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.

Listing ensures that the architectural and historic interest of the building is carefully considered before any alterations, either outside or inside, are agreed.

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About the lists

The lists are registers recording the best buildings, but they comprise a wide variety of structures from castles to milestones. Listed buildings are an important part of our local and national heritage and provide a unique link with the past; they bring history alive. They are limited in numbers and irreplaceable, deserving special care and attention.

We also maintain a list of buildings of special local interest in Lichfield city centre. These are buildings that are not necessarily listed, but have a special architectural, historic or other interest. We will be transferring this list onto our website in the near future. If you would like to see this list, please contact our conservation team on 01543 308188/203 or email

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How are buildings listed?

Most buildings were listed in the national re-survey of listed buildings which began in 1970, and has just been completed. Additions to the list can still be made to take account of buildings or structures that may have been overlooked. This process can take several weeks, or, in an emergency, less than a day. The procedure is known as spot listing, and these buildings have the same status as other listed buildings.

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How are buildings chosen for listing?

The main criteria used are:

  • architectural interest: all buildings which are nationally important for the interest of their architectural design, decoration and craftsmanship; also important examples of particular building types and techniques, and significant plan forms
  • historic interest: this includes buildings which illustrate important aspects of the nation's social, economic, cultural or military history
  • close historical association with nationally important buildings or events
  • group value, especially where buildings comprise an important architectural or historic unity or are a fine example of planning (such as squares, terraces and model villages)

The older and rarer a building is, the more likely it is to be listed.

All buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition are listed, as are most built between 1700 and 1840. After that date the selection criteria becomes much more stringent with time. This is because of the increased number of buildings erected and the much larger numbers which have survived, so that post-1945 buildings have to be exceptionally important to be listed.

Buildings less than 30 years old are very rarely listed, and only if they are of outstanding quality and under threat.

More information can be found on Historic England's website.

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What is the effect of listing?

When a building is listed, it is recognised as being of special architectural or historical interest or both, and its details become part of a public record. Most significantly, the building is immediately protected by law, and any changes including demolition, alterations and extensions to it must first receive listed building consent.

Even relatively minor works like painting may affect the character of a listed building and it is therefore advisable to contact our conservation team before starting any works.

All of the building inside and out is listed. There is no such thing as just a listed facade or listed interior - although many people think this is the case. The description in the official list is not intended to provide a comprehensive record of all the features of importance - but primarily to identify the building.

Anything fixed to a listed building is also listed. Any structure in the grounds which was there before 1948 (even if not fixed to the listed building) is itself listed as a curtilage structure. This includes boundary walls, gates and garden walls.

The setting of a listed building is often an important factor when new development or extensions are being considered.

Listing does not mean that a building is mothballed. What it does seek to do is ensure that any alterations respect the character of the building, and that the case for its preservation is fully taken into account when any redevelopment proposals are considered. The system of listed building consent is a flexible one - over 90% of applications result in permission being granted.

Under section 9 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 it is a criminal offence to demolish, alter or extend a listed building without consent and the penalties for this can be heavy.

It is punishable by a fine or a prison sentence and you can be required to undo harmful alterations. We will take any unauthorised works to a listed building very seriously and will pursue prosecution where appropriate.

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Owning a listed building

Being responsible for an historic building is a privilege. It represents a commitment to the nation's heritage and your own contribution to preserving it for future generations to enjoy.

Each historic building is unique, once part of its fabric is destroyed or damaged it can never be genuinely replaced. The intrinsic value to society of our historic buildings and areas is recognised by the government, local authorities and heritage organisations.

A legal framework exists to help guide essential change whilst protecting and enhancing the special character of the buildings we value.

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When is planning permission needed?

Sometimes planning permission is needed for building work as well as listed building consent, for instance for building an extension or converting a building into a new use. Please contact our development control team for advice and guidance.

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When do I need listed building consent?

You will need to get listed building consent from us if you want to demolish a listed building or any part of it, or alter it in any way which would affect its character, inside or out. Repairs which match the existing historic fabric exactly may not need consent, but the conservation section will advise you on this as the effect of any repairs is not always straightforward. Examples of work which may need consent include changing windows and doors, painting over brickwork or removing external surfaces, putting in dormer windows or roof lights, putting up aerials, satellite dishes and burglar alarms, changing roofing materials, moving or removing internal walls, making new doorways, and removing or altering fireplaces, panelling or staircases.

More information can be found on Historic England's website.

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How do I apply for listed building consent?

Your first step should be to contact our development control team before you make an application, who can advise you informally whether your proposals are likely to be accepted. This could save you time and money.

It is nearly always best to employ an architect who is used to working with listed buildings at an early stage for work on extensions and alterations involving historic fabric.

He or she will have the necessary skills to be aware of where likely difficulties and sensitive areas will be and can draw up sketch proposals, if necessary, for discussion with officers before hard and fast decisions are taken.

We deal with the majority of listed building consent cases and will give you the appropriate form for making your application (there is no fee for such applications). Your application will need to include enough information to show clearly what you intend to do, with detailed scaled drawings and photographs.

Find out more about applying for listed building consent.

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How long will permission take?

It will usually take at about eight weeks after you send in your application form for a decision to be sent to you.

If consent is refused you have three months in which you can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

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Consideration of applications

The fact that a building is listed does not necessarily mean that it must be preserved intact for all time; the main purpose of listing is to ensure that care is taken over decisions affecting its future, that any alterations respect the particular character and interest of the building, and that the case for its preservation is taken fully into account in considering the merits of any redevelopment proposals.

Applications are advertised and comments are invited from various bodies and in some cases the Department for Communities and Local Government and Historic England are also consulted. Applications are considered with the specific aim of preserving the historic building in its setting. In cases where demolition is approved, Historic England must be given the opportunity to record the building if it so wishes.

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Listed buildings often contain important materials, architectural details and examples of workmanship that contribute to the special architectural or historic interest of the building.

Particular attention should always be paid to any repairs, restoration or alterations so that these details are not damaged or lost. In many cases expert advice will be required and craftsmen experienced in this type of work will be needed.

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Can I get a grant for repairs?

We run a small grant scheme called the historic buildings grant. This scheme aims to help with the cost of repairs to historic buildings and is now prioritised towards buildings at risk.

Historic England also runs a grant scheme for the repair of buildings of outstanding architectural or historic interest, this usually means Grade I or Grade II* buildings. Further information on funding schemes can be found on Historic England's website.

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Do I have to pay VAT on alterations?

From 1 October 2012 VAT at the standard rate applies to all materials and services supplied in the course of approved alterations to listed buildings or scheduled monuments. For more information on other tax relief schemes in relation to listed buildings see  Historic England's website.

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What if I let my listed building deteriorate?

Owners have the most important role in looking after historic buildings, and many take great pride in the care of their property and in preserving its character and atmosphere.

Modest expenditure on regular maintenance and minor repairs can prevent very serious problems such as dry rot from developing. It is particularly important to check rainwater disposal systems every winter as this can save you a lot of expense and prevent escalating deterioration from occurring.

There are cases however, where, for various reasons, a listed building falls into serious disrepair. In these situations the district council has, as a last resort, powers to require owners to carry out repairs using a repairs notice. The notice specifies what works need to be done and if they are not carried out, we can seek to acquire the property compulsorily.

Where a listed building is unoccupied, we can serve an urgent works notice and carry out emergency works themselves to make the building wind and weather proof. We can then recover the costs, through the courts if necessary, from the owner.

We use these powers reluctantly, but are prepared to do so if necessary to ensure the long term survival of any listed building in the area.

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Contact us

If you own a listed building and want to carry out any work or have any queries, please contact our team on 01543 308188/203 or email

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Phone our contact centre: 01543 308 000
District Council House, Frog Lane, Lichfield, Staffs, WS13 6YY

If you need to contact a team direct, please visit our contacts page for team phone numbers and email addresses.

Opening times

Our main reception at Frog Lane in Lichfield is open Monday - Friday, 8.45am - 5.15pm. Our phone lines close at 5pm.