What is a listed building?

If a building is deemed to have special architectural or historic importance or interest, then it's likely to be on the National Heritage List for England, Historic Environment Scotland’s list of buildings, the list of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest for Wales or the Northern Ireland Buildings Database. Since all are a ‘list’ of buildings of historic or architectural significance, they are called listed buildings.

Listed building search

Depending on where you are in the UK, there are different online tools to search for listed buildings and find out whether your property is listed. Use the links below to find out more.

Altering a listed building

If you’ve bought a listed building, you will need consent before you alter the property in any way. Changes usually require planning permission from your local authority, but listed buildings can also require ‘listed consent’. Depending on what grade your listed building falls under, there will likely be more controls or restrictions on what you can and can't change.

Listing usually applies to the whole building, including the interior, but it can also cover additions or extensions to the property or structures and fixtures attached to it.

Altering your property without the proper permission is against the law, can lead to large fines and affect your ability to sell the property.

Getting permission to alter a listed building

Always contact your local authority first—they are ultimately the ones who will grant you permission. They may also offer you advice on your application for increasing its chances of approval. To start an application, you need to go through a planning portal (see below), we recommended applying for planning permission and listed consent at the same time.

If your Local Authority has a Conservation Officer, they are a valuable point of contact for advice. They are experts on how historic assets can be preserved and can recommend how to alter your property whilst retaining its heritage.

If changes to your property or land could affect a site’s archaeology, a county archaeologist may be consulted to determine how your plans should progress. Contacting one yourself can result in advice on how to ensure your plans are approved.

You might also wish to consult a specialist such as a conservation architect who specialises in historic buildings and their conservation. They can ensure that plans to alter a listed building fall in line with what is more likely to be granted permission.

Planning Portals:

Listed building grades


  1. Grade I is the highest grade, reserved for buildings of exceptional interest
  2. Grade II* buildings are of special interest and carry more significance than grade II alone 
  3. Grade II listed buildings account for over 90 per cent of all listed buildings. 


  1. Category A buildings are of 'national or international architectural or historic importance'
  2. Category B buildings have a regional significance 
  3. Category C are of local importance and usually simple buildings 


  1. Grade A buildings display excellent archictecture of a particlular period or style 
  2. Grade B+ are high qualifty but fall short of Grade A due to an impairment 
  3. Grade B1 are a good example of a particular period or style 
  4. Grade B2 buildings qualifiy by virtue of only a few attributes

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