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Listed buildings

Buildings of special architectural or historical interest are listed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, on advice from Historic England.

South Gloucestershire contains approximately 2,500 listed buildings. There are three grades of listed buildings depending on the national importance of the building at the time of listing.

The grades are:

  • Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest; only 2.5% of listed buildings are Grade I
  • Grade II* buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest; 5.8% of listed buildings are Grade II*
  • Grade II buildings are of special interest; 91.7% of all listed buildings are in this class and it is the most likely grade of listing for a home owner.

What is protected?

When a building is listed, all of the interior, as well as the exterior of the building is protected. Any additions or structures attached to the main building are included in the listing irrespective of age or quality. The protection also extends to free standing structures such as boundary walls and outbuildings within the curtilage of the listed building (the area of land associated with the building). These structures are not normally mentioned in the listing, nor is the extent of the curtilage of the listed building defined on the statutory map. It is for the local authority to determine the extent of the curtilage.

How do I find out if my building is listed?

You can find out if a building is listed and download a copy of the list description via the National Heritage List for England website.

This website will identify the main listed building but does not show the extent of the protected curtilage. If the building you are interested in is close to a listed building or on land formerly associated with a listed building you should check with the council to see whether it may also be protected.

How can I get a building listed or de-listed?

Applications to have a building listed or removed from the statutory list should be made to Historic England via its online application, which has guidance on how to complete the application. Historic England have produced a series of selection guides which they use when assessing whether a historic building or site should be listed. It is advisable to refer to this guidance when making an application for listing.

Criteria for listing

The following are the main criteria used to decide which buildings to include on the list:

  • architectural design, decoration and craftsmanship; also important examples of particular building types and techniques and significant plan forms;
  • illustrations of important aspects of the nation’s social, economic, cultural or military history;
  • close historical association with nationally important people or events; or
  • group value especially where buildings comprise an important architectural or historic group or a fine example of planning e.g. squares, terraces or model villages.

Undertaking work to listed, or curtilage listed, buildings:

Listed building consent is required if you wish to alter, extend or demolish a listed building. Repairs which might alter the character of the building or result in the loss of historic fabric will also require consent.

It is a criminal offence to carry out work to a listed building without listed building consent. There are severe penalties for breaking the law.

Applications for listed building consent can be made online in the same way as applications for planning permission via the Planning Portal. Paper forms can also be downloaded.

We determine applications for listed building consent in accordance with the legislation contained in the Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas Act 1990, the council’s policies within the Policies, Sites and Places DPD Plan, Core Strategy and the policies contained in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Works to historic buildings should be based on an understanding of the structure, materials and traditional building techniques, which contribute to their architectural and historic significance. You will need to submit with your listed building application with a Heritage Statement describing the significance of the building and its setting, as well as the impact your proposals will have upon its significance.

We will seek to preserve listed buildings, their settings and any features of architectural or historic interest they may possess. 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.

Pre-application advice:

Pre-application advice can be sought from us prior to the submission of applications for listed building consent and it is prudent to check whether works will require consent or not. Owners of listed buildings should contact us by phone or via the on-line planning enquiry form prior to carrying out works to a listed building, in order to identify what works will require listed building consent, and also to get pre-application advice on the proposed works.

The listed status of a building does not mean that change is impossible, but that all changes must be justified, and will be assessed on their impact on the character, significance and historic fabric of the listed building.

In the case of grade I and II* listed buildings, the advice of Historic England should also be sought prior to making a formal application for listed building consent. Historic England operate a separate Enhanced Advisory Service and provide free initial pre-application advice with the option of extending this through a fee-based service.

Who is responsible for maintaining listed buildings?

It is the owner’s responsibility to maintain a listed building. In cases of deliberate neglect or long-term vacancy, a listed building is put on Historic England’s register of buildings at risk.

We monitor buildings at risk and seek long-term solutions for neglected, redundant or derelict listed buildings. We have legal powers to serve an urgent works notice or repairs notice on the owner of a listed building, requiring works to be carried out to prevent further decay. The notice will specify the works which we consider reasonably necessary for the preservation of the building.

An urgent works notice is restricted to emergency repairs only, such as works to keep a building wind and weatherproof and safe from collapse, while a repairs notice is not restricted to urgent works and may include works to preserve architectural details.

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 even compulsorily purchase a building at risk.

Does the council help pay to restore or repair buildings at risk?

We have no grant funds available to aid in the restoration and repair of buildings at risk. Grants may be available from Historic England, or in limited cases if the building is owned by a charitable trust, the Heritage Lottery Fund may be able to help.

Emergency work

It is possible to undertake certain emergency work to listed buildings without first getting listed building consent but only if you can subsequently prove 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 to make the building safe; and
  • that detailed notice in writing justifying the work was given to us as soon as reasonably practical to do so.

However the circumstances where emergency work can be undertaken without seeking prior listed building consent are extremely limited, particularly where demolition is involved. Where emergency works are contemplated, we should always be contacted in the first instance in order to reduce the risk that a prosecution for unauthorized works might result.

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