A Guide to Listed Building Consent

listed-buildingListed Building Consent is the permission you need to make alterations, add extensions or demolish parts or all a listed building. Not to be confused with planning permission, which is required alongside Listed Building Consent, this type of approval goes through local councils, Historic England and other associated parties. It can be a minefield for beginners but it’s not too hard to navigate once you know the basics which is why we put this guide together.

Table of Contents

1. What needs Listed Building Consent?
2. What does a Listed Building Consent application require?
3. Before you complete and submit your application
4. Once a decision has been made on your application

What needs Listed Building Consent?

Listed Building Consent is required for all works of alteration, demolition or extension to a listed building. The building itself may not be the only thing ‘listed’ on the property and often listed building status is given to the entire plot of land as opposed to just the main building. The listed protection could reasonably cover outhouses, attached buildings and other features within the curtilage like water fountains or ornate gardens. Unless documents say explicitly otherwise, you must apply for this consent to works on all elements of the plot.

It seems like an easy way to get around applying for and reasoning for Listed Building Consent is to feign ignorance of the listed protection, but this simply doesn’t wash with local councils and Historic England as they’re more commonly prosecuting people. You can get Listed Building Consent granted retrospectively once the work is complete but this is no guarantee that it will be granted and they could make you restore everything.

Making unauthorized changes to a listed building is considered a criminal offense.


What does a Listed Building Consent application require?

Applications should be made to the local planning authority, alongside planning permission if that’s required, who will then consult with relevant bodies. The aim is that any application, successful or rejected, is returned within 8 weeks for regular sized projects whereas up to 13 weeks is estimated for larger or longer-term works. Both of these time frames include a mandatory 21 day consultation period which seeks to get the input of neighbours, local bodies and other relevant third parties.


Required supporting documents

Two types of supporting documents are required alongside a Listed Building Consent application. A design and access statement is required to explain the thought process behind any works. This must cover the reasoning for accessibility, which includes things like whether it increases wheelchair accessibility or improves safety for children. It can also cover reasoning to do with design, such as installing a conservation window improves energy efficiency and looks better.

The other documents needed to support your application are a full set of plans and building elevations both as the building currently is and how the building will look once the designs are finished. Included in this should be an Ordnance Survey-supplied location plan of the area.


Before you complete and submit your application

Before you complete your application and submit it it’s worth looking over a few things and making sure you understand the process. We recommend that you speak to your local Conservation Officer who will oversee the final decision on your consent. See if consent is needed before you submit it as a first port of call as if the changes you want to make aren’t covered by the listing protection then you may only need planning permission.

Each Conservation Officer is responsible for their own decisions and there are no council-led or government-led rules on what is or isn’t acceptable so try to get to know what your Conservation Officer has or hasn’t approved. This could guide your application and ultimately save you the hassle of getting rejected on one small element that you knew they wouldn’t like anyway!

Don’t forget it’s not just about what your building looks like externally. Listed protection is also about maintaining the history, the architecture and the story behind a building so you’ll be surprised at what sparked the protected status in the first place. Chances are a change to a historic, hand-crafted 1700s marble fireplace won’t be allowed.

Once a decision has been made on your application

Depending on the outcome of your application you’re able to appeal the decision if you think the rejection was unfounded or if you’re willing to make some changes. Each rejection should be justified by the local authority or Historic England so you can use this as a guideline when re-submitting.

It really is worth mentioning that when a listed building is sold, the onus is always on the new owner to rectify un-authorized changes or to retrospectively apply for consent. Just because the property changes hands does not mean the case is dropped, the new owner inherits the lack of consent. It’s definitely worth checking there’s no active issues on a listed property that you’re considering buying! Learn how to live in a listed building by Historic England.


Listed Building Consent is an easy process once you know what needs to be supplied and detailed, however we would recommend employing a solicitor or an expert in this area to save you money and time on this. 

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