Today there are nearly half a million Listed Buildings nationwide. In the UK a listed building is one that has been included on The Statutory list of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.The List is compiled by the Department of Culture, Media & Sport, with the help of English Heritage.
The idea of protecting important or historical buildings came about because of World War II. The Town and Country Planning Act 1947 created the first list of buildings that were deemed to be important enough to be rebuilt or repaired if they were damaged during air raids.
Most Listed Buildings are those in nearly their original condition. Listed status was given to most buildings built before 1700 and many built between 1700 & 1840. Today it is usual for a building to be over 30 years old to obtain Listed status.
The late 1980’s saw a large number of buildings added to the list after the demolition of the Firestone Factory, an Art Deco building, caused outrage among the public. Since the end of the 1980’s the number of buildings added to the list has gradually decreased over the years.
Grades of Listed Building
There are three standard categories of Listed Buildings in England:-
Grade I – buildings of exceptional importance- 2.5 % are Grade I
Grade II* - particularly important buildings of more than special interest. 5.5% are Grade II*
Grade II – buildings that are of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them. 92% are Grade II.
The grade system differs in Scotland, with buildings graded using A,B & C.
The Listing does not only apply to the facade of the property, it covers the inside of the building as well as boundary walls and any buildings or structures within the curtilage of the property.
Caring for and maintaining a Listed Building
Looking after a Listed Building is not always easy to do. There are certain requirements to be met regarding the repair and maintenance of Listed buildings. In extreme cases criminal charges can be brought if the owner of the building fails to maintain it to at least the standard it was when it became their responsibility.
Repairs or alterations are usually required to be carried out using traditional methods and suitable materials. Unfortunately due to the age of the properties things that most of us deal with by ourselves with a little DIY can require skilled tradesmen to carry out the work which is expensive to do. We have found that most damage to older properties is caused by damp or water.
Due to the expense involved and the associated costs such as insurance, sometimes an owner can appeal against the building being listed and if the request is granted it will be removed from the list...this is quite rare. Usually this will only happen if a building is considered to no longer be of historical importance, for example, after a fire.