Guide for the Listing of Historic Buildings
1.1 The Secretary of State for the Environment is required to compile lists of buildings of special architectural or historic interest, for the guidance of local planning authorities in the exercise of their own planning functions under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971.
1.2 ‘Building preservation orders’ were introduced by the Town and Country Planning Act 1932, but the first historic buildings survey of England was carried out in the 1950s and 1960s, as a result of which statutory lists were provided for all local authority areas. With the revision, in 1970, of the criteria for selecting buildings for listing, a resurvey was begun so that the lists could be updated. The resurvey of the whole country is nearing completion.
How the Buildings are Chosen
1.3 The principles of selection for the lists were drawn up by the Historic Buildings Council (the functions of the former Historic Buildings Council for England are now carried out by the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission (HBMC)) and approved by the Secretary of State. They cover five groups:All buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition are listed. Most buildings of 1700 to 1840 are listed, though selection is necessary. Between 1840 and 1914 only buildings of definite quality and character are listed, and the selection is designed to include the principal works of the principal architects. Between 1914 and 1939, selected buildings of high quality are listed. A few outstanding buildings erected after 1939.
1.4 In choosing buildings, particular attention is paid to: Special value within certain types, either for architectural or planning reasons or as illustrating social and economic history (for instance, industrial buildings, railway stations, schools, hospitals, theatres, town halls, markets, exchanges, almshouses, prisons, lock-ups, mills). Technological innovation or virtuosity (for instance cast iron, prefabrication, or the early use of concrete). Association with well-known characters or events. Group value, especially as examples of town planning (for instance, squares, terraces or model villages).
1.5 A total of over 435,000 buildings in England had been included in the lists by December 1989.
1.6 The buildings are classified in grades to show their relative importance as follows:-
Grade I (Grade One): These are buildings of exceptional interest (only about 2 per cent of listed buildings so far are in this grade).
Grade II* (Grade Two Star): These are particularly important buildings of more than special interest (some 4 per cent of listed buildings).
Grade II (Grade Two): These are buildings of special interest, which warrant every effort being made to preserve them.
Grade III: A non-statutory and now obsolete grade. Grade III buildings were those which, whilst not qualifying for the statutory list, were considered nevertheless to be of some importance. Many of these buildings are now considered to be of special interest by current standards – particularly where they possess “group value” and are being added to the statutory lists as these are revised.
1.7 Lists compiled before August 1977 employed the grades A, B and C for Anglican churches in use. These grades were adopted because it was considered that if the same standards were employed as for secular buildings the result would be to include too many churches in Grade I. The standard for a church included in Grade A therefore was higher than the standard for a secular building included in Grade I; the majority of churches were placed in Grade B, and Grade C corresponded to the secular Grade III. The abolition of the Grade III category in 1970 meant thereafter that Grade C tended towards equivalence with Grade II in revised lists. The Historic Buildings Council advised in August 1977 that the use of A, B and C grades for Anglican churches in use should be discontinued, that the grades I,II* and II should be introduced, and that the grading of Anglican churches should be fully equivalent to that of secular buildings.
The Statutory List
1.8 Until 1970 it was the Department’s practice to issue two separate types of list – the provisional list, which gave the grade and a description of each building, and the statutory list, which contained only the addresses of the buildings. Following the national listing resurvey, however, revised statutory lists have been issued in a new form. Details of gradings and descriptive notes are now being included in one cumulative statutory list for each local authority area. All the buildings included in the statutory list are legally subject to the consequential provisions described in this pamphlet.
1.9 Buildings are assessed for their architectural or historic interest on behalf of the Secretary of State by Inspectors of the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England, and also on occasion by County Council and consultant practice inspectors acting under the HBMC’s supervision. In some cases, Inspectors may need to see the interior of a building to complete their assessment. Owners may ask to see Inspectors’ identity cards, and they may of course accompany them inside the building concerned.
Building Preservation Notices
1.10 Individual buildings which are potentially listable can come under threat of alteration or demolition. In these circumstances the District Council or, in London,, the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission or the appropriate London Borough Council can issue a Building Preservation Notice (a BPN) which has the effect of protecting the building as fully as if it were listed for a period of 6 months. During this period an assessment is made, and if the building qualifies against the appropriate selection criteria it is added formally to the statutory list. If the Secretary of State decides before the end of the 6-month period that he does not intend to confirm the BPN, it expires when he notifies the local planning authority in writing of his intention. If during the life of the BPN any application is received for listed building consent (see Section 3.2 below) for the demolition, alteration or extension of the building, and the local planning authority is minded to grant consent, it must refer the application to the appropriate Regional Office of the Department of the Environment. County Councils cannot issue BPNs, and a BPN may not be served in respect of an ecclesiastical building which is still in ecclesiastical use. See also Section 1.12 below.
1.11 It is also open to members of the public to bring to the Department’s attention individual threatened buildings. They should write to: The Department of National Heritage (Listing Branch), Room C9/15, 2 Marsham Street, London, SWIP 3EB. and should give the full address of the building in question and, if possible, photographs of it and a location plan. The building will be assessed and, if it qualifies, added to the statutory list. This emergency procedure is known as “spot” listing.
1.12 Certificates of Immunity from Listing The addition of a building to the statutory list at a late stage in the preparation of proposals for its alteration or demolition can cause delay and even abandonment of a redevelopment scheme as well as other difficulties and hardships. Most developers would prefer to know the listing position at the earliest possible stage. Provided, therefore, that planning permission is being sought or has been granted, any person may apply to the Secretary of State (at the address in Section 1.11 above) for a certificate stating that it is not intended to list the building shown in the application plans. If the certificate is granted the building cannot be listed or be the subject of a Building Preservation Notice for a period of 5 years. Where the building in question is assessed as being of special architectural or historic interest, however, it is listed, and no certificate is issued.
1.13 A decision to list a building is taken solely on grounds of architectural or historic interest. There is no formal right of appeal against this decision, at the moment of listing, but an owner may at any time put to the Secretary of State evidence that his building does not possess the architectural or historic interest identified. (See also Section 3.6 below). If the Secretary of State accepts that the original assessment of a building’s interest was wrong in this way, and that it does not possess special interest, he will then ‘de-list’ the building.
Where to see the Lists
1.14 You can inspect the statutory lists for England free of charge at: The National Monuments Record in Swindon or at the office of the relevant County or District Council (in London, at the office of the appropriate London Borough Council).
2 SCHEDULED ANCIENT MONUMENTS
In addition to compiling lists of buildings of special architectural or historic interest, the Secretary of State is also responsible for compiling a schedule of ancient monuments under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 (as amended). Occasionally a building is both scheduled and listed. In those cases the ancient monuments legislation takes precedence and the listed building legislation described in Sections 3 to 5 below does not apply.
3.1 The fact that a building is listed as of special architectural or historic interest does not mean that it will be preserved intact in all circumstances, but it does ensure that the case for its preservation is fully considered, through the procedure for obtaining listed building consent.
Listed Building Consent
3.2 Anyone who wants to demolish a listed building, or to alter or extend one in any way that affects its character, must obtain ‘listed building consent’ from the local planning authority (the District or London Borough Council), or in some circumstances the Secretary of State. The procedure is similar to that for obtaining planning permission. (Details can be obtained from the Planning Department of any County, District or London Borough Council).
3.3 It is an offence to demolish, alter or extend a listed building without listed building consent and the penalty can be a fine of unlimited amount or up to twelve months’ imprisonment, or both.
Listed Building Consent and Planning Permission
3.4 Anyone wishing to redevelop a site on which a listed building stands will need both listed building consent for the demolition and planning permission for the new building. Planning permission alone is not sufficient to authorise the demolition. Similarly, anyone wishing to alter a listed building in a way which would affect its character, and whose proposed alteration amounts to development for which specific planning permission is required (as distinct from a general permission given by the General Development Order), will also need to apply for planning permission and for listed building consent. See also Sections 1.10, 7 and 9.2.
3.5 If an application for listed building consent is refused by the local planning authority, or granted subject to conditions the applicant has a right of appeal to the Secretary of State.
3.6 On receipt of an appeal, the Secretary of State will normally hold a local inquiry if either the applicant or the local authority ask him to do so. The procedure for appealing is virtually identical with the procedure for appealing against a refusal of planning permission, but the applicant can include, as one of the grounds of appeal, an argument that the building concerned is not of special architectural or historic interest and ought not to be listed. (See also Section 1.13 above).
4. RECORDING OF BUILDINGS TO BE DEMOLISHED
If you are granted listed building consent to demolish a building – either wholly or in part – you must not do so until the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments has been given an opportunity to make a record of it. So if you propose to demolish part or all of a listed building you should tell the Royal Commission at The Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, Swindon either before or immediately after you get listed building consent. You can get a form for this purpose from the local planning authority. You must then wait for at least a month (the period runs from one of two dates – the date on which listed building consent is given, or the date on which the Royal Commission is notified, whichever is the later). During that time you must allow the Royal Commission reasonable access to the building. If the Royal Commission completes its records of the building within the month, or states that it does not wish to record it, you can then demolish the building at once. If, exceptionally, the month has elapsed and the Royal Commission has been notified but has not been in touch, the building can be demolished without further delay.
5.1 If a local authority consider that a listed building is not being properly preserved they may serve on the owner a ‘repairs notice’ under Section 115 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. This notice must specify the works which the authority consider reasonably necessary for the proper preservation of the building and explain that if it is not complied with within 2 months the authority may make a compulsory purchase order and submit it to the Secretary of State for confirmation. If the owner deliberately neglects the building in order to redevelop the site, the local authority may not only acquire the building, but may do so at a price which excludes the value of the site for redevelopment. If the building is unoccupied, the authority can serve a notice on the owner giving him 7 days’ notice of their intention to carry out repairs which are urgently necessary to secure its preservation and recover the cost from the owner. These powers may also be exercised by the Secretary of State. Owners of listed buildings can, in some cases, get grants or loans to help them with repairs and maintenance. The next section explains the position.
GRANTS AND LOANS
(The term ‘grant’ in this section can be taken to include loans). Grants are available in certain circumstances both from the HBMC and from local authorities. They are always at the discretion of the body giving them: listing does not give any automatic entitlement to a grant. (For details of conservation area grants, see Section 9.3 below).
Grants to Outstanding Secular Buildings
Repairs grants are available for buildings of ‘outstanding architectural or historic interest’. Grants are made towards re-roofing, treating dry rot and other structural repairs, but not normally towards decoration or works of regular maintenance. Owners have to show that they would not be able to complete the work without financial help and are usually asked to supply details of assets and income to substantiate their application. Grants cannot be made for work already started or completed, so requests for assistance should be made before work is begun. Unless a building has been empty for some time and cannot otherwise be brought back into use or if there are other special circumstances, grants are not offered for recently purchased properties as the price is assumed to reflect their state of repair. Applications should be made to: The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England, Swindon.
Grants to Places of Worship in Use
Under a scheme agreed between the Department of the Environment, the General Synod of the Church of England and the Churches Main Committee (on behalf of other denominations), grants are available to churches and other religious buildings which are of outstanding interest. Grants are made in the same way as repair grants for secular buildings and the same criteria for selection are applied. Applications for Church of England churches should be made through the Archdeacon; applications for religious buildings of other denominations should be made direct to the HBMC at the address in Section 6.2 above.
Redundant Church of England Buildings
6.4 Under a joint scheme with the Church Commissioners, the Government also aids the upkeep of redundant Church of England buildings, vested in the Redundant Churches Fund, which merit preservation on historic or architectural grounds but for which there is no suitable alternative use.
6.5 Some historic towns have a ‘town scheme’. Matching grants are made towards the cost of repairs to buildings on the town scheme list by the HBMC and the local authority administering the scheme, to whom applications should be addressed.
Local Authority Grants
6.6 Local authorities have a wider scope. They may make grants for any building of architectural or historic interest and are not restricted to outstanding buildings or even to listed buildings. Grants may be made by County and District Councils (in London by the London Borough Councils) and enquiries should be addressed to the appropriate local authority.
Some listed buildings enjoy a more favourable position on the payment of Value Added Tax on works than do unlisted buildings. Repairs and alterations to unlisted buildings are subject to VAT at the standard-rate, but alterations to listed buildings that are designed as dwellings or used for qualifying residential or non-business charity purposes, together with those that are being converted to such use, are not subject to VAT as long as the work is done by a VAT registered builder and with listed building consent. This relief only applies to alterations to qualifying listed buildings carried out with the appropriate consent (see Section 3.4): VAT remains payable on repairs and other works which do not require consent and also to alterations carried out to any other non-qualifying listed building. [Pavilions of Splendour comment: NOTE: This legislation has recently changed and will shortly be updated here.]
Many churches are of special architectural or historic interest, and are listed as such. But so long as they are used for ecclesiastical purposes they remain generally outside the scope of the listed building controls described in this pamphlet. Listed building consent is not required, for instance, for works to a listed ecclesiastical building which is remaining in ecclesiastical use. However, listed building consent is required for the TOTAL demolition of a listed ecclesiastical building (except where the building is a redundant church of the Church of England, and the demolition is in pursuance of a pastoral or redundancy scheme made under the Pastoral Measure 1968). See also Sections 1.7, 1.10, 6.3 and 6.4.
9. CONSERVATION AREAS
9.1 In 1967 the Civic Amenities Act provided for the identification and designation by local planning authorities of conservation areas. These were defined as ‘areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’. Conservation areas are often centred on listed buildings, but not always.
9.2 The Town and Country Planning Act 1971 as amended by the Town and Country Amenities Act 1974 requires anyone wishing to demolish an unlisted building within a conservation area to apply first for conservation area consent. The protection from demolition accorded to listed buildings (see Sections 3.2 and 3.3 above) is therefore accorded to all buildings in conservation areas (subject to a few exemptions described in paragraph 96 of DOE Circular 8/87 – Historic Buildings and Conservation Areas – Policy and Procedure). 9.3 Conservation area grants are available for buildings in conservation areas and are made for works which will make a significant contribution to the ‘preservation or enhancement of the character or appearance of a conservation area’. Applications should be made to the HBMC at the address in Section 6.2 above.
10. LIST OF STATUTES
The relevant Acts of Parliament are as follows:
Town and Country Planning Act 1932
Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953
Local Authorities (Historic Buildings) Act 1962
Civic Amenities Act 1967
Town and Country Planning Act 1971
Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Act 1972
Town and Country Amenities Act 1974
Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979
Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980
National Heritage Act 1983
Finance Act 1984
Local Government Act 1985
Housing and Planning Act 1986
This document was originally published in 1990 by:
The Department of National Heritage (Listing Branch),
2 Marsham Street,
London, SWIP 3EB.
Department of the Environment
The latest version is available from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
Posted in guide