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Listed Buildings


Classification of listed buildings

Listed buildings are classified into 3 grades:

  • Grade I (Grade 1) buildings are of exceptional interest. Just 2.5% of listed buildings are Grade I.
  • Grade II* (Grade 2-star) buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest. 5.5% of listed buildings are Grade II*.
  • Grade II (Grade 2) buildings are of special interest warranting every effort to preserve them. Over 90% of all listed buildings are in this grade.

Listing is not intended to prevent change, but to ensure changes protect the character or significance of the listed building.

The purpose of a listing is to protect a building, for example from unsympathetic alteration, unjustified demolition, or neglect.

Listing covers the whole of a building, including the interior and can also cover:

  • Other attached structures and fixtures
  • Later extensions or additions
  • Pre-1948 buildings on land attached to the listed building, for example within its garden, (in the planning system the term ‘curtilage’ is used to describe this land).


Is my building listed?

A listed building is any structure considered by the Secretary of State (for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) to be 'of special architectural or historic interest'.

To find out if your property is a listed building, you can check our South Cambridgeshire planning map or search the National Heritage List for England, on the Historic England website.


Listed building consent

You are likely to need listed building consent for works to listed buildings and you may also need listed buildings consent for any works to separate buildings within the grounds of a listed building, before you carry out the work.

If a building is listed, there are controls over what changes can be made to a building's interior and exterior and you will need to apply for listed building consent for most types of work that affect the building's special architectural or historic interest.

It is a criminal offence to carry out unauthorised works to a listed building without listed buildings consent. Our planning enforcement team can take action to prosecute you and any other offending individuals. You could be liable to prosecution and be made to rectify any changes you have made. The maximum penalty could include imprisonment and unlimited fines.


When do I need listed building consent?

You will need consent for:

  • demolition of all or part of a listed building (including buildings and structures in the curtilage)
  • alterations (including internal works) that affect the character of the building
  • extensions
  • repairs that involve replacing important parts of the building's fabric, or using different materials (such as replacing a slate roof with tiles)
  • works to the building that affect its architectural or historic interest

There is not one simple answer for when you need listed building consent.

We recommend you read our Listed Buildings Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) and contact us for pre-application advice.


Applying for listed building consent

If you are unsure whether you require listed buildings consent, please ask us for pre-application advice, to avoid penalties for unauthorised works.

To apply for listed building consent, visit the Planning Portal to complete an online form. Select listed building consent as your application type.

The Planning Portal form should be completed and returned to us electronically or in hard copy via our general planning contact details

There are several documents that you need to submit for your listed buildings consent application to be validated. Please find a list of the required documents for validation and our guidance for writing a heritage statement.

If you have any technical issues with applying for listed building consent, please contact our Planning Technical Support team.


Applying for planning permission

In some cases, you will need to apply for both planning permission and listed building consent. 

If you are unsure whether you require planning permission as well as listed buildings consent, please ask us for pre-application advice.

You can apply for planning permission via our planning permission webpage.


Emergency works to listed buildings

Emergency works can be carried out to a listed building without prior consent providing you can prove the following:

  • 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 only the minimum necessary intervention was carried out
  • That notice in writing justifying in detail the work was given to the council as soon as reasonably practicable

If you find yourself in a situation where you believe such works are necessary, you should contact the Historic Environment team as soon as possible, preferably before starting works.


Correcting unauthorised works in listed buildings

The liability for correcting unauthorised works will transfer to the new owner of the property. If you have come into ownership of a listed building with works that may not have been authorised it is recommended that you contact the Historic Environment team.

We will usually be able to advise whether the unauthorised works are acceptable. If they are acceptable, a listed building consent application will usually be required (within a reasonable timescale).

If the unauthorised works are not acceptable, we will advise on the best way to move forward. There is not one clear answer and it is suggested that you contact the Historic Environment team. Please note that these requests cannot be prioritised over conservation officer’s statutory consultation workload.  


Further information

Further information about listed buildings is available on the Planning Portal.