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Listed buildings

What is a Listed Building?

A listed building is a building of ‘special architectural or historic interest’ that has been identified and included on a government list of protected buildings under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.

English Heritage administer the statutory list. Anyone can ask for a building to be considered for listing. English Heritage will assess the case and make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport who may or may not add the building to the list.

What does designation mean?

Listing gives the building protection from unauthorised demolition and unsympathetic change but it is not a preservation order, preventing any change. Listing aims to make sure that any future change does not harm the special character of the building.

The listing covers the whole building inside and out and may also include other buildings in the curtilage, or immediate surroundings, such as boundary walls and ancillary buildings.

Listed Building Consent is required for any alteration that might affect the special interest of the building. This process is administered by the Local Authority. Consent is not required for exact like-for-like repairs – ie exactly the same materials and exactly the same design. It’s always best to check if consent is required because undertaking works to a listed building without the necessary consents can be a criminal act and can result in prosecution.

Listed Buildings in Leeds

There are over 3,300 listed buildings in Leeds (based on 2,300 list entries). A gazetteer of all the listed buildings in the metropolitan area is available here.

Listed Building descriptions are accessible through the National Heritage List for England

What is a listed building and what do the grades mean?

A listed building is a building of ‘special architectural or historic interest’ that has been identified and included on a government list of protected buildings under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.

Listed buildings are graded according to their importance:

Grade I – of exceptional interest, sometimes considered to be internationally important – only about 2.5% of all listed buildings in England
Grade II* - particularly important buildings of more than special interest – 5.5% of all listed buildings
Grade II – nationally important and of special interest – 92% of all listed buildings.

How do I get a building listed?

English Heritage administer the statutory list but the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport makes the final decision to include buildings on the list.

Anyone can ask for a building to be listed. English Heritage have an online application form to nominate a building and start the process – see External links section.

English Heritage have produced selection guides for assessing candidate buildings for listing. These guides are available on their website – see External links section.

The general principles applied by the Secretary of State when deciding whether a building should be added to the list is available on the Department of Culture, Media and Sport website – see External links section.

How do I find out if a building is listed?

A gazetteer of all the listed buildings in the Leeds metropolitan area is available to download here.

You can also search on the National Heritage List for England webpage – see External links section.

What does listing cover?

​Listing covers the whole building inside and out, including fixtures and fittings such as fireplaces, doors and panelling. It may also include other buildings in the curtilage, or immediate surroundings, such as boundary walls and ancillary buildings. This is the case whatever the grade of listing.

The list description, is a description to enable the identification of the building. It is not a definitive list of important features and special character of the building. List descriptions are available on the National Heritage List for England Webpage – see External links section.

The extent of listing can be a complex matter and it’s always best to check with the council if in any doubt.

Does listing mean that I can’t make any changes to the building?

No. Listing gives protection against unauthorised demolition and harmful change, but change that respects and safeguards the special character of the building is likely to be acceptable.

Changes to listed buildings are controlled through Listed Building Consent which is administered by local authorities. Listed Building Consent is required for any change which may affect the special character of the building.

Consent is not required for like-for-like repairs as long as they are exactly like-for-like in terms of materials and design.

It is generally best to check if proposals require listed building consent as undertaking works to a listed building without the necessary consent may be a criminal act and could lead to prosecution.

Making changes to listed buildings is a specialist task and getting the right advice is essential. Historic buildings work in a different way to modern construction and have to be treated in a different way in order to function properly. Getting advice from people who understand historic buildings and have experience working with them is important. The links provided give contacts for finding an architect or chartered surveyor with experience of historic buildings.

Is listed building consent different to planning permission?

Yes. The two systems are separate although in practice the same drawings and information can often be used. Some changes to listed buildings will need both listed building consent and planning permission. Although internal alterations do not normally require planning permission, listed building consent is needed for any works which affect the character of the listed building.

What if changes have been made to a listed building without consent?

Making changes to a listed building without consent may be a criminal act and can lead to prosecution. The responsibility for unauthorised works lies with the current owner of the building even if they did not undertake the works.

As with any unauthorised work, the Council as planning authority can take enforcement action to remedy the problem. This can include insisting that unauthorised work is removed and made good or can also involve applying to the courts for fines or imprisonment in the more serious cases.

There is often a time limit on taking enforcement action under general planning powers. No such time limit exists in respect of unauthorised works to listed buildings. If you are buying a listed building it is therefore important to check with the owner (and if needed with the Council) that no unauthorised works have been carried out. You or your agent can ask to see any planning permission or listed building consent at the Development Enquiry Centre.

Can I get a grant for repairs to a listed building?

The council does not run a general grant scheme for repairs to listed buildings. Some grants may be available and more information can be found on the Funding the Heritage weblink on the Conservation and Heritage page of this website.

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