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Listed buildings

A listed building is a building included on the 'List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest' created by English Heritage and approved by the Department for Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS), under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.

The protection covers the interior and exterior of the property. Any object or structure fixed to the building and any object or structure within the curtilage (land) of the building which, although not fixed to the building, forms part of the land and has done so since before 1 July 1948, are also treated as part of the listed building.

The list of historic buildings includes a description of each entry. List descriptions are not intended to provide a comprehensive or exclusive record of all features of importance and the amount of information available varies significantly. If a feature isn't included in the description, this doesn't mean that it is not of interest or that it can be removed or altered without consent.

Grading can be changed where re-evaluation takes place after damage or alteration, or as more evidence of a building's history or architectural quality comes to light. The statutory controls on alterations apply equally to all listed buildings whatever the grade.

There are three categories of listed buildings:

  • Grade I - buildings are of exceptional interest (less than 2.5% of the national total)
  • Grade II* - particularly important buildings (less than 5.5% of the national total)
  • Grade II - buildings are of special importance (over 92% of the national total)

For further information see A Guide for Owners of Listed Buildings on the Historic England website.

How buildings are chosen

Historic England are responsible for maintaining the list. Many old buildings and recent buildings are interesting, but listing identifies only those which are of national 'special interest'.

Buildings and structures of special interest vary significantly. Historic England has created twenty broad categories within the list ranging from agriculture to the utilities.

There are selection guides available explaining what Historic England are looking for when they assess applications for inclusion on the list. They also include historical overviews, special considerations for listing and bibliographies.

Guides and selection criteria can be found on the Historic England Selection criteria website see below.

Search for listed buildings

When a building is added to the statutory list, the owner and/or occupier is notified. Listed building status is also shown in the local search when buying a property.

If you are unsure whether your building is listed, you can check the following websites:

How to get a building listed or delisted

If you would like to have a building considered for listing or de-listing, you can submit an application form to Historic England. Further information on listed buildings, including the guidance notes explaining how to complete the application form, can be found on Historic England - listed buildings. You don't need to be the owner of a building to make a request for listing/de-listing.

Historic England assesses buildings put forward for listing or de-listing and provides advice to the Department for Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS). Guidance on De-listing a Building Historic England on the architectural and historic interest. The Secretary of State, who is free to seek additional advice from others, then decides whether to list or de-list the building.

Apply for listing on the Historic England website.

The DCMS does not normally consider a request for de-listing when:

  • there is a current application for listed building consent relating to the building
  • there is an appeal against refusal of consent
  • any legal action is being taken by the local authority

Any request for a listing review should be accompanied by:

  • Justification for adding (or deleting) a building
  • Location plan
  • Clear up-to-date photographs
  • Any other historical information on the building

There is no requirement to consult the owners before a building is listed. However, unless an inspector is aware of a specific threat, they will contact the owner or leave a visiting card. There is also no right of appeal against a listing and no right to compensation for loss of redevelopment opportunities.

Making changes to a listed building

Any works to a listed building that affects its special architectural and historic interest will require listed building consent from the planning authority.

Regular maintenance and minor 'like-for-like' repairs won't usually require listed building consent, as long as the repairs don't include removal of historic material or changes to its character. Many large-scale repairs, for example structural roof repairs, substantial re-pointing or external cleaning, require consent. Painting of exterior walls may also require consent if the walls were previously unpainted or if a significant colour change is planned that would affect the building's character.

Internal refurbishment or alterations require consent if they include:

  • Removal of historic fabric such as doors
  • Fireplaces
  • Panelling or plaster
  • Replacement of external doors or windows

However, internal repainting or redecoration of previously decorated surfaces or the replacement of modern bathroom or kitchen fittings, don't normally require consent

For further information the following Historic England guidance documents are available

Pre-application advice

We offer a pre-application advice service to anyone wanting help with listed building consent before the submission of an application. This is a chargeable service

If you are unsure, please seek pre-application advice.

Historic England also operate a pre-application service.

Heritage Statement

Any proposals which will affect a heritage asset or its setting will require a Heritage Statement and should include information from the Historic environment Record.

A Heritage Statement should be submitted with the following types of application:

  • Listed building consent applications.
  • Planning applications affecting any of the following or their setting: listed buildings, conservation areas, scheduled ancient monuments, registered park and gardens, registered battlefields and World Heritage Sites.
  • Planning applications affecting a non-designated heritage asset.

It is good practice for a Heritage Statement to be researched and prepared at the beginning of the process of formulating proposals. The significance of the heritage asset and any constraints that this imposes should then influence the development of the proposals.

Churches and chapels

Churches and chapels are often listed. If they belong to one of the six denominations listed below and are in active use for worship, they will have ecclesiastical exemption. This means listed building consent isn't necessary and they should enquire with the Diocesan Advisory Committee to consider whether they need a faculty decision of Archdeacon approval.

However, they are required to consult with the local planning authority for any works or alterations to the church or chapel. Evidence of this consultation must be provided when applications for a faculty are made.

Any extensions or alterations which affect the external appearance or silhouette of the building, for example addition of grills to protect windows, will require planning permission regardless of denomination.

Unauthorised works to listed buildings

Listed buildings are an irreplaceable part of our history and once damaged or lost, the connections we have with the past are weakened.

No-one may demolish any part of a listed building, extend it, or carry out any interior or exterior alterations affecting its character without first obtaining Listed Building Consent.

Unauthorised works to listed buildings will be investigated and may lead to a prosecution resulting in a criminal record, fine and/or a prison term.

The form to complete to report unauthorised works is via

Failure of an owner to look after their listed building

If an owner doesn't preserve a listed building, the local planning authority may take action to secure the building's future. The local authority may carry out urgent works to preserve an empty listed building from getting worse. The cost of this is recovered from the owner. The authority can also serve a 'repairs notice' that specifies the works necessary to preserve the building. If these works are not carried out within a reasonable timescale, the local authority may look to purchase the property.

Grants to help with the costs of repairing my listed building

Unfortunately, there are currently no Somerset West and Taunton Council grant schemes available for listed buildings.

Historic England offer grants for 'outstanding' listed buildings but normally only Grade I and II* structures would be eligible. Please go to the Historic England - Grants website.


Emergency work to a listed building

There is no legal provision for carrying out emergency works to a listed building without applying for consent. However, in urgent situations it would be a defence in the case of any subsequent prosecution to be able to prove all of the following:

  • That the works were urgently necessary in the interest of health and safety or to preserve 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.
  • That notice in writing justifying the work in detail was given to the local authority.

Climate Change

The following Historic England guidance is available to provide an overview of the direct and indirect impacts of climate change and the historic environment.

Policies that apply to a listed building

Government policy regarding the historic environment is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework.

The council is also preparing a new Local Plan including a core strategy which sets out local policy for the Somerset West and Taunton Council unitary authority area.

For other areas the former local plan policies below remain relevant:

Apply for listed building consent

An application form can be obtained from, or the whole application submitted via, the Planning Portal.

Contact details

Tel: 0300 304 8000