What is a listed building?
On estate agents’ details, the description “Grade II listed” sounds impressive. The term commands immediate respect and can add value to a property but what does it mean exactly?
A building which has been listed is one that has been placed on a statutory National Heritage list. The aim is to identify the most important buildings in the country and protect them for future generations. “It marks and celebrates a building’s special architectural and historic merit,” say Historic England, the historic buildings and monuments commission.
There are about half a million listed buildings in the UK from cottages to castles and from mills to mansions.
The older a building is the more likely it is to be listed, according to Historic England. All buildings built before 1700 are listed if they survive in something like their original condition as are many period properties built between 1700 and 1840. Subsequently fewer buildings are listed because of higher survival rates.
There are three main categories of listed building in England and Wales
Grade I –exceptional interest or A (Scotland and Northern Ireland)
Grade II* - particularly important of more than special interest or B (Scotland) or B* (N. Ireland)
Grade II –of special interest or C (Scotland) or B1/B2 (N.Ireland)
More than 90 per cent of properties are in the lowest grade II category, 5.5 per cent are Grade II* and just 2.5 per cent Grade I
The listing status applies to the whole property – interior, exterior and ancillary structures, such as walls, gates, barns and stables.
The statutory list of buildings of special architectural and historic interest is maintained in England by English Heritage, in Wales by Cadw, in Scotland by Historic Scotland and in Northern Ireland by Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
Owning a listed building comes with certain responsibilities