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Listed buildings

Last Modified July 18, 2016

A listed building is a building, object or structure that has been judged to be of national historical or architectural interest, and so has been placed on the National Heritage List for England (NHLE).

Any object or structure fixed to a listed 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.

Find out more about listing from Historic England.

How can I find out if a building is listed?

Details of all listed buildings, structures and sites are held on the  (NHLE) which is maintained by Historic England (previously called English Heritage) for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

What do the different grades of listing mean?

Buildings on the list are graded to reflect their relative architectural and historic interest. Buildings of historic interest may justify a higher grading than would otherwise be appropriate.

• Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest;

• Grade II* buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest;

• Grade II buildings are of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them.

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.

How are buildings listed?

Buildings are added, or removed, from the list on the advice of specialist inspectors employed by Historic England. 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.

The final decision is made either by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport or Historic England, depending on the type of building or site. Find out more about the Heritage England designation process on their website.

Can I get a building or site listed or removed from the list?

It is possible to apply to Historic England for a building or site to be protected through the listing system, or for a currently listed building to be removed.

The request should be 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.

You can apply to protect:

  • Buildings;
  • Monuments, including war memorials;
  • Parks, gardens or battlefields; and  
  • Maritime wreck sites.


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

If successful, the building or site will then be added to the National Heritage List for England (NHLE).

Historic England only take forward applications where the building or site:

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.

What are the criteria for considering a building for listed status?

The Secretary of State, guided by Historic England, uses the following criteria in deciding which buildings to include on the statutory list:

  • Architectural interest  A buildings must be of importance in its architectural design, decoration or craftsmanship; also important are examples of particular building types and techniques and buildings of significant plan forms.
  • Historic interest. A building must illustrate important aspects of the nation's social, economic, cultural or military history.


General principles are used to determine whether a building is of such architectural or historic interest to warrant inclusion on the list.

These principles include:

  • Age and rarity. 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 contain a significant proportion of their original fabric are listed;
    • 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. This is because larger numbers of buildings were erected after this date, and many more of them survive;
    • Careful selection is required in order to list buildings constructed after 1945;
    • 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.
  • Aesthetic merits (the appearance of a building). Both the intrinsic architectural merit of a building and any value as part of a group are key considerations. The special interest of a building is not always reflected in its external quality. For example industrial buildings may have little aesthetic value.
  • Selectivity. Where a building qualifies for listing primarily on the strength of its special architectural interest, the fact that there are other buildings of similar quality elsewhere is not likely to be a major consideration. However where a substantial number of buildings of a similar type and quality survive, listing needs to be selective, and the policy is to list only most representative or significant examples.
  • National interest. The emphasis in these criteria is to establish consistency of selection to ensure that not only are all buildings of strong intrinsic architectural interest included on the list, but also the most significant or distinctive regional buildings that together make a major contribution to the national historic stock. For instance, the best examples of local vernacular buildings will normally be listed because together they illustrate the importance of distinctive local and regional traditions. 


Further information on the selection guidance used by Historic England, and a brief guide to the selection process from DCMS.

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.

Is it possible to make amendments to a list entry (e.g. changes to a building's name)?

Historic England consider certain amendments to the List to be minor amendments, and they can make certain changes quickly.

Larger amendments will require that a full application is made.

Find out more about the process and apply to make minor amendments to a list entry.

What are the effects of listing?

Permission from the council is required 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.

Can I do work to a listed building?

Listed building consent is required to carry out most types of work to a listed building, although there are exceptions.

We recommend that you contact us in advance for advice if you are planning to carry out any works to a listed building as it is not always straight forward.

As a rough guide, the following works do not usually need consent:

  • regular maintenance and like-for-like repairs do not need listed building consent (unless these include the removal of historic material or changes to its character);
  • internal repainting or redecoration, installing new bathroom or kitchen fittings would not normally need consent. 


Consent is required for;

  • the majority of external alterations;
  • repairs that include the removal of historic material or changes to the building's character. For example, internal alterations that include removal of historic doors, fireplaces, panelling, plasterwork or replacement of external doors or windows would require consent;
  • external painting as it may affect the character of the building.

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.

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.

In more complicated cases we recommend that you apply for pre-application advice, for which a fee is charged, as this allows us to provide detailed advice based on information that you supply.

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 who sits within the Planing Policy and Transport team. Telephone 020 8207 2277, email us at planning@hertsmere.gov.uk or write to us at our office address below.

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, or 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.

The Hertsmere Site Allocations and Development Management Policies Plan (known as SADM), which is currently in draft and is going through the Local Plan Examination process, contains a section on the Historic Environment (see Policy SADM30 - Heritage Assets).

Additional guidance is included in the Government's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

What can the council do about neglected listed buildings?

In certain cases of deliberate neglect or long term vacancy, a listed building can be 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.

The list can be viewed on the Hertfordshire Building Preservation Trust website.

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 Council also has legal powers which require owners to carry out urgent repair works to prevent further decay to their property. These powers allow us to specify work which is required 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.

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 Officer who sits within the Planing Policy and Transport team. The building will be inspected and we will advise you of any action we intend to take.

Please telephone 020 8207 2277, email us at planning@hertsmere.gov.uk or write to us at our office address below.


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