6 steps to listed building consent

29 June 2018

With spare building plots scarce and the cost of moving home at a premium many more individuals are considering renovating an existing home as an effective way to get the home they want. The number of house extensions, renovations and refurbishments are soaring in the Home Counties and Greater London. But what happens if your building is a listed property? 

Understanding the requirements and building limitations of a listed building right at the beginning of your journey can help you set realistic timescales and design goals for your listed building renovation. 

  1.  Understand the planning permission for listed buildings

glass extension to a listed house

A very specific set of planning restrictions apply to a building that has been designated as ‘listed’. Historic England are responsible for deciding what buildings in the UK are listed and what listing they will receive. 

Before you set out on your project to renovate or extend your listed property you should first understand what type of listing your property has. 

  • Grade II buildings - these are buildings of special interest 91.7% of all listed buildings are Grade II listed buildings. If you are looking to renovate a listed house it is most likely going to be Grade II listed.
  • Grade II* buildings - these are buildings of a particular importance and of more than special interest. 5.8% of listed buildings are Grade II*.
  • Grade I - these are historical buildings of exceptional interest, only 2.5% of listed buildings are Grade I listed buildings.

You can search the National Heritage List for England to find out if your building is listed and what listing is has. 

As well as any general planning permissions needed for the work you want to do you will also need to apply for Listed Building Consent if you want to make any alterations, extensions, or demolitions to any element of listed building. Be aware that Listed Building Consent may also be required for landscaping works and alterations to additional buildings on the land as well. 

To apply for Listed Building Consent and to find out what you are able to do to your listed property you need to contact your local authority. They will be able to advise what the special interest of your property is and if the suggested changes will alter this characteristic. 

For projects local to Sky House our planning service is run by the Chiltern District Council which is combined with the South Bucks District Council who work together as a Joint Team. You can find their details at the end of this article.

  1. Consult an experienced architect

ashford mill was a listed mill building that was renovated and turned into a home

Planning applications with an architect listed and associated planning drawings are far more likely to be accepted than those without an architect. That figure is then compounded when you are looking at applications for works to listed buildings. 

It is always recommended that you consult with an architect to undergo any major changes to a listed property. You should look for an architect that has experience in the extension or renovation of listed buildings. That way you can ensure that the architect understands the requirements of listed buildings and is fully aware of the planning process. An experienced architect will also be able to help set realistic expectations for construction program planning and the likely budget requirements of the project. 

  1. Set an achievable building program

an historic building renovation with a thatched roof

You should keep in mind that the planning process for a listed building renovation is likely to take twice as long as your basic property application. This is due to the various parties involved in the consent for changes to a listed building as well as the level of detail required to grant permission. 

In most cases, detailed design drawings will be required as well as 3D renderings to show exactly what your intended modifications or extensions to the listed building will look like. You may also need to provide additional historic assessments and reports to justify the works you want to undertake. This is where an experienced architect will be highly effective as they will know how to portray the arguments for building alteration to the planning authorities.

Planning permission must be fully attained before work starts on site. It is an offence to carry out works on a listed property that require Listed Building Consent.

Once planning permission has been obtained you can start on site as any other building project would. However, you should build in some additional leeway into your building timescale to account for any ‘surprises’ that are found on site or unforeseen issues.

  1. Be prepared for surprises

a modern house extension to a country farmhouse

No building project goes entirely to plan. There are always little unforeseen elements that can crop up which could delay work or mean alterations to the plan have to be made. This is even truer for listed buildings. 

As the structures themselves tend to be old you could uncover various unforeseen road bumps throughout the process of the renovation works. This could be anything from damp to structural issues to archaeological discoveries. 

If you are undertaking building works to a listed building you should be prepared and ready for this issues and have an open mind throughout the process. Pick a team of experts and suppliers that understand the challenges of building works to listed buildings and they will be able to offer advice and guidance to overcome these issues quickly and effectively. 

  1. Have a realistic budget

a glass extension to a grade II listed house

When a property is listed you may be instructed by the planning authorities to use certain materials or products before they will approve your plans to renovate. These requirements for planning permission could include the use of more expensive building materials such as true steel windows or hand moulded copings for instance. 

These more artisan elements to a build will increase the cost of the overall renovation but you cannot cut corners when updating a listed house. 

Your architect will be able to offer a realistic budget once the plans for the building are finalised but it is always sensible to have some contingency budget to overcome those ‘surprises’ we mentioned before. 

  1. Commit to your listed building project

The renovation or updating of a listed property is really a labour of love. You will have to be invested in both pocket and mind for the project to be a success. The best advice is to keep your eye on your end goal – a beautiful listed property designed for modern living. Create a Pinterest board or Houzz Ideabook of your listed property to keep you motivated throughout the build and ensure your chosen suppliers and team are all working towards the same goal.

Many of the exhibitors here at Sky House Design Centre have experience in working with or completing alterations to listed properties all over the UK. To find out how the team at Sky House can help with your listed building project just get in touch and arrange an appointment to visit us. 

Contact information for local planning authority: 


planning@chiltern.gov.uk | planning@southbucks.gov.uk

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