Architecture
9/Sep/2022
7 minutes

Listed Buildings: What The Different Grades Mean

Listed Buildings: What The Different Grades Mean

Listed buildings are historic properties protected by their listed status. When a historical home or property is listed as Grade I, Grade II, or Grade II*, there are certain laws in place in the U.K to ensure their preservation.

Recognised as having special architectural or historic interest, there are many listed buildings across England that can be found on the Historic England website. People can own a listed property, however, they must follow the rules and regulations in place and have a certain level of responsibility as historic homeowners.

Whether you’re curious to know more about what the different listing grades mean or you’re planning to buy a listed building, we’ve aimed to cover everything in this guide.

From Grade I to Grade II* (we’ll come on to explain what the * represents), the process for choosing a listed building grade is a complex one and carried out by conservation officers.

Read on to learn more about Listed buildings, their different grades, and why local authorities place so much emphasis on maintaining these properties of special interest.

Why Buildings Are Listed In The U.K.

Listing celebrates a building’s special historical and architectural interest. Listed buildings are also protected so that non-approved alterations cannot go ahead. In order for a homeowner to make an alteration to a listed home, such as an extension, the local planning authority must review and approve the design.

In order to ensure that the U.K.’s architecturally and historically significant properties are accessible to future generations, the different listed building grades are in place.

The national register of Listed Buildings was established shortly after WWII and it began as a way of determining which buildings needed construction after the bombing of the country.

Today, the listing register still stands with about 500,000 buildings listed. As part of the national heritage of the U.K., these buildings are valuable not only in a monetary sense but on a cultural level too.

Grade II* Listed Buildings

Grade II* buildings are considered to be particularly important buildings of more than special interest. Around 5.8% of listed buildings are Grade II* and they usually showcase the highest quality of craftsmanship, are in original condition and may have once been the home to a notable person in history.

Grade II Listed Buildings

Grade II buildings are of special interest and there are around 91.7% of these listed properties in the U.K. Of all listed buildings, Grade II buildings are the most common to be owned and span houses, industrial buildings, churches, and even bridges.

Grade I Listed Buildings

Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest both on an architectural and historical scale. Only around 2.5% of buildings are Grade I and the status is usually reserved for stately homes, castles, and other impressive historical properties.

Which Parts of A Building Are Listed?

When a building is listed, its status covers the entirety of its construction inclusive of any structures that have been added to the home including extensions. To clarify, we’ve added a bit of guidance below so that you have a clearer understanding of what you’re responsible for when you own a listed home.

  • Any structure or object that is fixed to the building is listed;
  • Any structure or object that has been placed on the land surrounding the building since 1948 is listed;
  • The interior of Grade I, Grade II, or Grade II* buildings is listed.

Is The Law The Same For All Listed Buildings?

Buildings of special architectural or historic interest are all protected under laws. However, the rules for planning permission vary depending on a building’s listed grade. Grade II listed buildings can be altered by the owner, but original architectural features must be preserved.

If you were to go ahead and make alterations to the architectural features of a Grade II listed building or Grade II* listed building, you would find yourself facing serious legal implications.

Architectural features span fireplaces, chimneys, woodwork, windows, doors, and stonework, for example. Though this list isn’t exclusive, it should give you a clearer idea of what you can and cannot alter.

Grade I buildings have extra legal protection in place within the planning system. For homeowners of Grade I buildings, there is a specific planning application process you must go through in order to make any sort of alterations to your property.

Owning A Listed Building & Your Responsibility

It is a great privilege to own a listed building, however, there is extra responsibility to consider. There are many benefits that come with owning a historical property-not just the period features you’ll be surrounded by.

However, learning about how best to preserve your property and the correct procedures for carrying out alterations to a listed house is very important.

Below, you’ll find a list of some of the main considerations to keep in mind if you plan to or own a listed building:

We’ve included an overview of the top considerations to keep in mind about owning a historically listed building:

  • You will need legal permission to make any alterations to a graded building;
  • Repairs to historical buildings will generally cost you more;
  • Repairs are usually more complex to carry out and require expertise;
  • You will need to take out listed building insurance;
  • You can be prosecuted if you carry out works that have not been authorised by a conservation officer.

There are many more considerations along with helpful guidance.

Christopher David Design & Listed Buildings
We're extremely fortunate to work across many listed and national heritage building projects, with each being completely unique.
Our complete approach encompasses specialist skills and careful planning to ensure our clients' a result they are proud of. In the case of preserving and protecting listed homes, a specific step-by-step plan must be put into place.

Below, we've covered some of the most common questions Christopher David Design receives in relation to our approach to listed building projects.
If I'm Planning To Renovate A Listed Home, What Are The First Steps?

Begin with research first. Many people who fall in love with listed buildings may find themselves disheartened when they’re unable to freely renovate the building to their wishes.

The local Conservation Officer who will review your application for Listed Building Consent will look at the details. It’s also a good idea to look at what changes have taken place across the property in the past.

If previous works have been undertaken to renovate the historical property, there will be more flexibility for you to do so. Once you’ve carried out your research you will be in a better position to plan on what is going to be an achievable renovation project for your listed property.

Who Should Be Involved In The Project At The Beginning?

We highly recommend involving a team of specialists right from the beginning of your project. In addition to architectural designers, conservationists and heritage consultants are key in ensuring the project is a success.

Conservationists and heritage consultants thoroughly understand the special approaches that are required for renovating listed properties. They will also be able to advise on the materials that should be used to maintain the building’s original character.

What Is The Architectural Designer's Role In Supporting Through The Process?

Listed building architectural designers and designers bring everything together – from the initial design stage right through to completion. From the larger scale decisions to the more minor, Christopher David Design oversees every aspect while supporting other professionals in their roles too.

What Sort Of Process Does Christopher David Design Offer Its Clients?

Our main priority is to pay respect to the historical architecture of a listed building. Every listed building renovation project should aim to maintain a property’s original character and charm. We carry out an initial assessment to understand the historical aspects of the property before liaising with a planning officer.

Once this first step has been taken, we put together a considered design proposal that is sensitive to the historic fabric of the property. All of our listed building projects are approached in a way so that any renovation work complements the original build.

We look at how to best maintain features and where the replacement of repair works or additions is necessary. It is important to remember that designing takes time and quite often it involves negotiating, especially in the case of listed buildings.

However, it is completely possible to renovate a listed home to create an outcome that you will love while paying respect to a building’s heritage.

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