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Listed buildings general information

What is a listed building? 

A 'listed building' is a building, object or structure that has been judged to be of national importance in terms of architectural or historic interest and included on a special register, called the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. Compiled by the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS), under the provisions of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, the list includes a wide variety of structures, from castles and cathedrals to milestones and village pumps.

Which part of the building is listed? 

When a building is listed it is listed in its entirety, which means that both the exterior and the interior are protected. The list descriptions are intended mainly for identification purposes and are rarely a comprehensive record of all features of interest. They should not be relied upon to determine whether or not listed building consent is required for works to a listed building. Buildings that lie within the curtilage of a listed building, unless built after July 1948, are also subject to listed building control even if they are not specifically mentioned in the list description. In addition, objects fixed to the building may be considered to be part of the listed building. 

From June 2013 new list entries and list amendments have been able to declare that structures or buildings attached to or within the curtilage of the principal listed building are not protected. The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 also allows for a part or feature of the principal listed building to be declared definitively as not of special interest. This will allow the secretary of state to keep the extent of listing protection to that intended at the time of designation. The Act does not extend to buildings listed before 2013, although Historic England intend to review listed building descriptions over time. 

Listed building consent

Listed building consent is a type of planning control, which protects buildings of special architectural or historical interest. These controls are in addition to any planning regulations which would normally apply. They apply to any works for the demolition of a listed building, or for its alteration or extension which is likely to affect its character as a building of special architectural or historical interest.

It is a criminal offence to carry out work which needs listed building consent without obtaining it beforehand.

Why are buildings listed?

Historic buildings add to the quality of our lives, and are an important aspect of the character and appearance of our towns, villages and countryside. They are listed to help protect the physical evidence of our past and to preserve their special character. 

What criteria are used to decide whether or not to list a building? 

The Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) uses the following criteria to decide which buildings to include on the list of protected buildings: 

  • Architectural interest: buildings of importance because of their design, decoration and craftsmanship
  • Historic interest: buildings which illustrate an aspect of the nation's social, economic, cultural or military history
  • Historic association: buildings that demonstrate close historical association with nationally important people or events
  • Group value: buildings that form part of an architectural ensemble, such as squares, terraces or model villages 

In broad terms, buildings that are eligible for listed status are as follows: 

  • All buildings built before 1700 that survive in anything like their original condition
  • Most buildings of 1700-1840, although selection is necessary
  • Between 1840 and 1914 only buildings of definite quality and character; the selection is designed to include the major works of principal architects
  • Between 1914 and 1939 selected buildings of high quality or historic interest
  • A limited number of outstanding buildings after 1939, but at least ten years old, and usually more than 30 years old 

Grades of listed buildings

Listed buildings are classified into grades as follows: 

  • Grade I - buildings of exceptional interest (approximately 2 per cent of all listed buildings)
  • Grade II* - particularly important and more than special interest (approximately four per cent)
  • Grade II - buildings of special interest, warranting every effort being made to preserve them (94 per cent) 

Development control and listed building control

In considering whether to grant planning permission for development which affects a listed building or its setting Blackpool Council has a statutory duty as defined by section 66 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 to have special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting, or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses.

Government advice is that there should be a general presumption in favour of the preservation of listed buildings, except where a convincing case can be made out for alteration or demolition. The council will therefore endeavour to preserve listed buildings, their settings and those features of special architectural or historic interest that they possess. 

For more detailed information and guidance for work on listed buildings please contact the built heritage team on 01253 476332 or