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Listed buildings

Last Modified June 17, 2014

A listed building is a building, object or structure that has been judged to be of national historical or architectural interest.

Any object or structure fixed to the building, and any object or structure within the curtilage of the building, which although not fixed to the building, forms part of the land and has done so since before 1 July 1948, are also treated as part of the listed building.

Details of all listed buildings are held on the National Heritage List for England which is maintained by English Heritage. They are also included on a register called the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, drawn up by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

 Your questions answered

Haydon Hill House, Bushey (a large yellow brick house)

What are the different grades of listing?

Listed buildings are placed in one of three grades, which give an indication of their relative importance - grade I, grade II* or grade II. Grade I and II* listed buildings are a small proportion (about 6% nationally) of all listed buildings. They are particularly important to the nation's built heritage as buildings of outstanding architectural or historic interest. The remaining buildings are listed Grade II and represent an important part of our built heritage which is given special protection.

Grading can be changed where re-evaluation takes place after damage or alteration, or as more evidence of a building's history or architectural quality comes to light. However the statutory controls on alterations apply equally to all listed buildings whatever the grade.

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What are the criteria for listing?

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport uses the following criteria in deciding which buildings to include on the statutory list:Bhaktivedanta Manor, Letchmore Heath

  • Architectural interest 
    Buildings of importance because of their design, decoration and craftsmanship; also important are examples of particular building types and techniques and buildings of significant plan forms.
  • Historic interest
    Illustrations of important aspects of the nation's social, economic, cultural or military history.
  • Historic association
    Close historical association with nationally important people or events.
  • Group value
    Where buildings make up an important architectural or historic group or a fine example of planning e.g. squares, terraces or model villages.


The older a building is, and the fewer the surviving examples of its kind, the more likely it is to have historic importance. All buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition are listed and most buildings built between 1700 and 1840 are listed. Buildings erected after 1840 may be listed where they are the best examples of particular building types and only buildings of definite quality and character are listed.

Buildings that are less than 30 years old are normally listed only if they are of outstanding quality and under threat. Buildings are not listed until they are at least 10 years old.

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How is a building listed?

Buildings are added, or removed, from the list by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Listing, Archaeology and World Heritage branch, on the advice of specialist inspectors employed by English Heritage. A building is added in one of three ways:

  • periodic re-survey of a borough or district
  • studies of particular building types e.g. post-war housing
  • spot listing of individual buildings under threat

There is no requirement to consult with the owners before a building is listed but unless an inspector is aware of a specific threat, they will contact the owner or leave a visiting card. There is also no right of appeal against a listing and no right to compensation for loss of redevelopment opportunities.

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How can I get a building listed or delisted?

The DCMS will consider a request to review a listing providing the request is accompanied by new evidence relating specifically to the architectural or historic interest of the building. Evidence about a building's condition and cost of repairing or maintaining it or redevelopment plans can not be considered. If you want a building to be listed, or a listing to be reconsidered, you must write to:

Department of Culture Media and Sport Listing
Archaeology and World Heritage Branch
2-4 Cockspur Street
London SW1Y 5DH

You do not need to be the owner of a building to do this.

The DCMS does not normally consider a request for delisting when:

  • there is a current application for listed building consent relating to the building
  • there is an appeal against refusal of consent
  • if any legal action is being taken the Local Authority.


Any request for a listing review should be accompanied by:

  • a justification for adding (or deleting) a building
  • location plan
  • clear up-to-date photographs
  • any other historical information on the building.

There is no requirement to consult the owners before a building is listed but unless an inspector is aware of a specific threat, they will contact the owner or leave a visiting card. There is also no right of appeal against a listing and no right to compensation for loss of redevelopment opportunities.

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What information does listing include?

The Statutory List includes a description of each building, which may refer to some, but not all, important features of a historic building. Every part a building is listed, including the interior and any later alterations or additions. Even if a feature (internal or external) is not included on the description, it does not mean that it is not of interest and it is still part of the listed building.

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What are the effects of listing?

You will need our permission to demolish a listed building or to carry out any alteration or extension which would affect its character. The need for listed building consent is different from planning permission but the process is very similar.

It is a criminal offence to carry out works to a listed building without prior listed building consent - even if you did not know that the building was listed. Carrying out unauthorised work is punishable by a fine or a prison sentence and we can require you to put the building back the way it was.

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Can I do work to a listed building? repairs being carried out to an interior wall of a listed building

You will need listed building consent to carry out work to the property, although there are exceptions. Regular maintenance and like-for-like repairs do not need listed building consent, but consent would be required if the repairs included removal of historic material or changes to its character. For example, internal alterations that include removal of historic doors, fireplaces, panelling, plasterwork or replacement of external doors or windows would require consent. However, internal repainting or redecoration, installing new bathroom or kitchen fittings would not normally need consent.  You will need consent for external painting as it may affect the character of the building. 

We recommend you contact us in advance for advice as it is not always straight forward.

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Can I do emergency work to a listed building?

Emergency work can be carried out to a listed building without prior consent providing you can subsequently prove all of the following:

  • that the works were urgently necessary in the interest of safety or health or for the preservation of the building
  • it was not practical to secure public safety or health or preserve the building by works of repair or temporary support or shelter
  • that the work was limited to the minimum measures immediately necessary
  • that notice in writing justifying in detail the work was given to us as soon as reasonably practicable


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How do I apply for listed building consent?

You will need to Submit an application. In most cases it will take eight weeks to process.

We are happy to talk to you about your proposals before you submit your application and we strongly recommend you take advantage of this. We also recommend that, except for the most simple applications, you employ an agent who is familiar with our policies and procedures.

If you are in any doubt as to whether planning permission or listed building consent is needed before starting any work to a listed building please contact our conservation officer at the offices below or email planning@hertsmere.gov.uk.

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What policies apply to listed buildings?

Generally, we want to preserve listed buildings, their settings and any features of architectural or historic interest so we would not normally approve an application to demolish a listed building, allow alterations that would involve the loss of historic parts of the building, obscure the original plan form, layout or structural integrity, or otherwise diminish the historic value of listed buildings

We also aim to keep listed buildings in their original use, or if this use no longer exists, in another use that causes least harm to the building. Many buildings can sustain some sensitive alterations or extensions to accommodate continuing or new uses, but listed buildings vary greatly in the extent to which they can be changed without harm to their special architectural or historic interest. Additional guidance is included in the Government's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

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What can the council do about neglected listed buildings?Delrow Cottage, Patchetts Green, a derelict cottage covered in foliage

Not all listed buildings are cared for by their owners. In certain cases of deliberate neglect or long term vacancy, a listed building is put on the register of buildings at risk. The register is drawn up by English Heritage for Grades I and II*. We also publish a list which includes buildings of all grades. These bring together information on all listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments known to be at risk from neglect, decay or redundancy.

We monitor buildings at risk and try to find long term solutions for neglected, redundant or derelict listed buildings. Some are the subject of refurbishment proposals and will be removed from the register when work is complete. The list can be viewed here.

We also have legal powers which require owners to carry out urgent repair works to prevent further decay to their property. This will specify the work needed to be done which are considered reasonably necessary for the preservation of the building. An Urgent Works Notice is for emergency repairs only - for example works to keep a building wind and weather-proof and secure against vandalism. A Repairs Notice may include works to preserve architectural details but can not be used to restore lost features.

In extreme cases, where building owners have not taken reasonable steps to preserve a listed building, we can do the work at the owner's cost or compulsorily purchase the building at risk.

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How do I report a building at risk?

If you are aware of a historic building which is either derelict or not being properly preserved you can contact our conservation team, who will inspect the building and advise you what action we intend to take.

Please email us: planning@hertsmere.gov.uk or contact us at our offices below.

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