Historic Environment FAQs

A listed building is any structure considered by the Secretary of State (for Culture, Media and Sport) to be 'of special architectural or historic interest' and included in a list of such buildings. 

The list is maintained by Historic England and is available on-line through the National Heritage List for England.

Listed buildings are classified into 3 grades:

  • Grade I (Grade 1) buildings are of exceptional interest. Just 2.5% of listed buildings are Grade 1
  • Grade II* (Grade 2-star) buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest. 5.5% of listed buildings are Grade 2-star
  • Grade II (Grade 2) buildings are of special interest warranting every effort to preserve them. Over 90% of all listed buildings are in this grade

Listing is not intended to prevent change, but to ensure changes are sympathetic to the significance of the listed building and either preserve or enhance the special architectural or historic interest of the structure.

The purpose of a listing is to protect a building, for example from unsympathetic alteration, unjustified demolition or neglect.

To find out if your property is a listed building please use our planning search map or Historic England’s site.

The list description contains the address of the property as well as a description and is the legal part of the document. Please use Historic England’s site to find the relevant list description for a property. 

  • All of the building
  • Any object or structure fixed to the building, including more recent extensions
  • Most buildings and structures within the grounds (‘curtilage listed structures’)
  • The inside as well as this outside  

Unless the listing description of your property explicitly references that a part or structure is not included within the listing, the whole of the property is considered to be listed.

If you are unsure, please contact the conservation team or Historic England’s Enhanced Advisory Services.

Under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, listed building consent is required from the local planning authority for any alterations which may affect the character of the listed building. This applies to any object or structure fixed to it, or any building in its curtilage constructed prior to July 1948.

You will require listed building consent to alter, demolish or replace any part of the listed building, or to extend or alter it in a manner which would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest.

Kitchen units, bathroom fittings and decor can usually be changed without any need for listed building consent, providing they are not part of the historic fabric of the listed building.

However, even fairly minor work, such as replacing an internal door might need consent. This will include where a modern door exists and you want to replace it with something more in keeping or traditional. This would usually be seen as a beneficial change, but it is nevertheless a change, and therefore the requirement for prior consent still stands.

Minor additions such as satellite dishes, flues, alarm boxes and other services may also require prior consent.

Repairs may usually be carried out without listed building consent, providing they are done exactly like-for-like. Repairs do not generally include replacement or demolition.

You would not require listed building consent to repair your windows by splicing in new timber to damaged patches, but you would need consent to replace the entire window, even if the replacement is an exact 'like-for-like' replica as this is seen as an alteration rather than a repair.

There is not one simple answer for when you need listed building consent and it is recommended that advice is sought prior to the submission of an application.

Your listed building consent may be subject to ‘pre-commencement conditions’ and therefore these need to be discharged prior to works starting.

It is a criminal offence to carry out unauthorised works on a listed building.

The curtilage of a listed building is normally considered to be the building itself, along with all the other buildings and land that makes up the property.

Buildings or structures that date after 1 July 1948, and which are unattached to the listed building, are not considered to be curtilage listed.

Typically, structures covered by curtilage listing might include: 

  • Walls
  • gate railings
  • gatehouses
  • stables
  • urns
  • statues
  • dairies
  • barns
  • privies
  • cart sheds

If you are unsure whether a structure is curtilage listed, please get in touch with the conservation team.

To demolish, alter or move any such structure, you will need to apply for Listed Building Consent.

If you want to make an application, you can do this online via the national planning portal.

Buildings and structures that are attached to the listed building or built before 1948 are treated as listed.

New developments will generally need planning permission.

Listed building consent will also be required if the development is attached to the listed building.

The impact on the character, appearance and setting of the listed building will be taken into account when deciding whether to give approval.

There is not one simple answer and it is recommended that advice is sought prior to the submission of an application.

The listing of the building means that there will be extra control over what changes can be made to a building’s interior and exterior.

The requirement for Listed Building Consent and Planning Permission is not to prevent change, but to ensure any alterations or extensions preserve or enhance the special historic or architectural interest of the building. Repairs can be carried out, on a ‘like-for-like’ basis without Listed Building Consent. However, all other works will require Listed Building Consent to be granted.

Any application for works affecting a listed building must be accompanied by a Heritage Statement demonstrating that the significance of the building has been considered.

We recommend using our pre-application advice for complex or large scale alterations or extensions to a listed building.

It is a criminal offence to carry out unauthorised works on a listed building. If you are in any doubt, please contact the conservation team prior to starting works.

You can apply for listed building consent via the Planning Portal website. The form can be completed electronically and returned to planning@greatercambridgeplanning.org, or completed by hand and posted to South Cambridgeshire Hall, Cambourne Business Park, Cambourne, Cambridge, CB23 6EA.

There are a number of documents that you will need to submit for your application to be validated, including a heritage statement. Please find a list of the required documents.

If you have any issues with applying for Listed Building Consent, please contact our planning technical support team on 0345 045 0500 or tso@scambs.gov.uk

In some cases, you will need to apply for both planning permission and listed building consent. You can speak to our duty planning officer to find out if the works will require planning permission.

The Historic Environment Record is held with Cambridgeshire County Council, more details can be found on their website.

Once an application is validated, you should allow at least eight weeks.

If the building is Grade I (Grade 1) or Grade II* (Grade 2-star), a longer period should be allowed in order for the local planning authority to undertake additional consultations required for these buildings. Historic England offers a pre-application advice service which is particularly recommended ahead of applications involving Grade 1 or 2-star buildings.

The liability of unauthorised works will transfer to the new owner of the property (and does not remain with the person who carried out the works). Therefore, it is recommended that you contact the conservation team.

We will usually be able to advise whether the unauthorised works are acceptable. If they are acceptable, a listed building consent application will usually be required (within a reasonable timescale.

If the unauthorised works are not acceptable, we will advise on the best way to move forward. There is not one clear answer and it is suggested that you contact the conservation team. Please note that these requests cannot be prioritised over conservation officer’s statutory consultation workload.    

Under section 54 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 the local authority may serve a notice requesting that the owner undertakes those works considered necessary for the preservation of the property. If the owner fails to carry out these works, the authority has permission to execute the works and to recover the cost of these works from the owner(s).

Under section 48 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 the local authority may serve a repairs notice on the owner. This notice will specify the works which the local authority considers reasonable necessary for the preservation of the building.

If the work has not taken place two months after the repairs notice has been served, the authority can start compulsory purchase order proceedings (under section 47 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990).

There are no specific grants for works to listed building. However, we can offer small grants for minor repairs on a means-tested basis. Please see our Homes Repairs Assistance Grants website page for further information.

If you carry out unauthorised works or do not follow the details of approved plans, you will be in breach of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 which may result in enforcement proceedings.

Examples of unauthorised works where reinstatement is likely to be required include:

  • Installation of new windows (particularly uPVC which are rarely accepted in Listed Buildings)
  • Installation of rooflights
  • Removal of internal doors
  • Internal alterations (for example, the creation of a new opening)

Please see our conservation area page. Please note that, at present, not all conservation areas have adopted appraisals.

It is a criminal offence to carry out unauthorised works to a listed building and we closely work with the enforcement team.

Report unauthorised works using our online form.

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