There’s a reason that listed buildings tend to command higher prices than their non-listed counterparts; they’re a part of our history and culture, offering us a glimpse into the architectural history of this great nation. Up and down the country there are hundreds of thousands of listed buildings. Most of them are inhabited or lived in, but many others are simply maintained in order to keep the history of the building alive.
For many homeowners, living in a listed building doesn’t make much difference on a day to day basis. Coming up against the council, however, usually means also coming up against the English Heritage and their listed building categories. Even the tiniest change like adding a satellite dish to the side of your house is likely to draw the ire of the organisation, and you’ll struggle to do anything if you’re in a certain category. So what are the listed building categories, and how does it affect your ability to turn a house in to a dream home?
Before anything else though, let’s examine the criteria for having your home listed:
- Aesthetic – The appearance of the building is a key aspect to it receiving listed building status, though many unappealing buildings will be listed for their social or economic history.
- Rarity – If your building is a particularly unusual example of its type, or one of the few remaining of its type left, it will be listed.
- Age – Put simply, the older the building is the higher the chance of it being listed is. All buildings erected before 1700 and which retain “a significant proportion of their original fabric” will definitely be listed. Buildings erected between 1700 and 1840 will likely be listed and buildings built after 1840 may be listed if they’re of a special social or cultural importance.
- National interest – Significant or distinctive buildings that represent the national interest will be listed.
- Selectivity – Where there remains a large number of a type of building, the most representative building will be listed.
Once your property has been listed, English Heritage make it their job to ensure the importance of the property remains. This typically means stopping any extensions, serious interior work or demolition of the building, but can mean almost anything if they consider it detrimental to the property. There are three types of listed building within the UK.
1) Grade 1: Buildings of particular interest, these include buildings like Belsay Hall in Northumberland or Harewood House in Leeds. This type of listing is very rare, with only 2.5% of all listed buildings being in this category.
2) Grade 2*: Buildings of particular importance and more than special interest. Rise Hall in Yorkshire and Trellick Tower in London are examples of this sort of listed building. 5.5% of listed buildings are in this category.
3) Grade 2: Buildings which are nationally importance and of special interest. This covers 92% of all listed buildings, and is what the majority of listed homes come under.
It’s likely that you home is a grade 2 listed building, which means that sensitivity to the home when you consider renovating it is of extreme importance, but it shouldn’t cause you too many headaches. Choosing timber sash windows over uPVC and retaining beams within the house are all examples of things that English Heritage may require of you.