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Listed buildings

Frequently asked questions

A building included on the ‘List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest’ drawn up by English Heritage and approved by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. The protection covers both 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's 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:

1. Grade I -  buildings are of exceptional interest (less than 2.5% of the national total)

2. Grade II* - particularly important buildings (less than 5.5% of the national total)

3. Grade II - buildings are of special importance (over 92% of the national total)

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English Heritage 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. English Heritage have created twenty broad categories within the list ranging from Agriculture to the Utilities. Selection guides explaining what English Heritage are looking for when they assess applications for inclusion on the list can be found on the Historic England site. The guides include historical overviews, special considerations for listing and select bibliographies.

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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 National Heritage List  or use our online mapping search.

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

English Heritage assesses buildings put forward for listing or delisting and provides advice to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) 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 delist the building.

The DCMS does not normally consider a request for delisting when:

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

Any request for a listing review should be accompanied by:

  • A 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 but 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.

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Any works to a listed building which 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 so long as the repairs don't include removal of historic material or changes to its character. Many large scale repairs (such as structural roof repairs, substantial re-pointing or external cleaning) will 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 that include removal of historic fabric such as doors, fireplaces, panelling or plaster or replacement of external doors or windows will also require consent. However, internal repainting or redecoration of previously decorated surfaces or the replacement of modern bathroom or kitchen fittings, won't normally need consent.

Churches and chapels are often listed. If they belong to one of the six denominations below and are in active use for worship, they will have ecclesiastical exemption and listed building consent won't be necessary. Consultation with the local planning authority is required for any works or alterations to the church or chapel. Evidence of this consultation will need to be provided when applications for a faculty are made.

Baptist Union

Church of England

Church in Wales

Methodist Church

Roman Catholic

United Reformed Church

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.

Historical information may be available at Wiltshire County Record Office the local library or your civic society. If in doubt, please seek pre-application advice.

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Altering or demolishing a listed building without listed building consent is a criminal offence and can carry heavy penalties including a fine or imprisonment. Works carried out must be specifically authorised and It is an offence to breach of any conditions which are attached to a listed building consent.

Before starting any works of repair or alteration to a listed building please make sure that your builder/contractor is aware that the building is listed. They should also be given a copy of the plans, any listed building consent conditions, the specifications and any grant conditions that may apply.

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If an owner doesn't preserve a listed building, the local planning authority may take action to secure the buildings future. The local authority may carry out urgent works to preserve an empty listed building from getting worse. The cost would then be 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.

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Unfortunately there are currently no Wiltshire Council grant schemes running for listed buildings.

Historic England offer grants for 'outstanding' listed buildings but normally only Grade I and II* structures would be eligible. Please visit the Historic England site to view the grants on offer .


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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 as soon as possible.
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Government policy regarding the historic environment is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. Wiltshire is preparing a new Local Development Framework including a core strategy which will set out local policy for the Wiltshire Unitary Council area. The South Wiltshire Core Strategy, adopted in early 2012, was incorporated into the final document. For other areas the former local plan policies below remain relevant:

North Wiltshire Local Plan 2011

Kennet Local Plan 2011

West Wiltshire District Plan 1st Alteration

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Apply for listed building consent

To apply for listed building consent you will need to submit an application form. The process is similar to applying for planning permission and most applications will take eight weeks to process. 

Communicating advice and guidance to applicants is an important part of the process so you may wish to contact the conservation officer to discuss your proposal before submitting. 

Please check with the conservation officer if you are not sure if planning permission will be required. It is recommended that all applicants read the ‘Listed building guidance notes' in the downloads sidebar. 

When submitting your application please include:

• Three copies of the form

• Your checklist, drawings and maps 

If you are applying for demolition works we will need nine copies of the form. When completed, the forms should be signed by hand; electronic signatures will not be accepted. 

Conservation officer

Tel: 0300 456 0114
Email: developmentmanagement@wiltshire.gov.uk 

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 which costs £60, more information can be found on the pre-application advice page.

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Last updated: 15 May 2017 | Last reviewed: 15 May 2017