Listed buildings advice

About carrying out work on 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.

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.

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.

How long will permission take?

It will usually take at about eight weeks after your application is validation 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.

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. 


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.

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.

How do I apply for listed building consent?

If you own a listed building and want to carry out any work or have any queries, please email us before you make an application.

We can advise you informally whether your proposals are likely to be accepted. This could save you time and money. We deal with the majority of listed building consent cases and 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.

It is also 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.