• Community Initiatives,  Heritage Under Threat,  Listed Building Spotlight,  News Update

    Listed Buildings: How They Work

    Is there a building that you’re particularly worried about?

    Buckingham Palace, a Grade I-listed building that is certainly not under threat. Credit: Wikipedia [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode]
    If you’re worried that a certain historical building is under threat of being altered, extended or demolished then you can nominate it to be listed by the National Heritage Trust. Nominations aren’t always accepted and listing is subject to a number of principles that have been put in place by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

    Before you make your nomination to save your building it’s a good idea to check to see if the building is not already listed. Despite your fears for this particular place, if this building satisfies the principles laid down and adjudicated upon by the Secretary of State then there’s a good chance that the site has either already been listed or is in the process of being assessed. Head to Historic England’s complete list to find out if the building that you’re looking to save hasn’t already been listed.

    There are a number of factors that affect the Secretary of State’s decision to list or not list a building and although it might seem like some of these factors are somewhat arbitrary, it’s worth considering them from a dispassionate point view, in order not to waste your time, or that of the Amenity Societies that will be looking into the case.

    It might sound a little redundant, but your building needs to be important should you wish it to be saved. ‘Important’ can be interpreted in a number of ways, but in the terms laid out by the ‘Principles of selection for listing buildings’ this can either be via Architectural interest or Historic interest.

    Architectural Interest

    Leeds General Infirmary, a Grade I listed building that is still in constant public use. Credit: Wikipedia [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode]
    A building may be considered important based on its architectural interest if its design, decoration or craftsmanship is of particular note. For example, perhaps your building features a particular style of period decoration that is no longer practised, or maybe it displays a certain innovation of that time that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.

    Historic Interest

    The Royal Oak in East London, a pub, was recently listed due to its characteristic 20th century architectural design. Credit: The Kray Twins Wikia [Credit: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]
    In order for your building to be considered of historical interest it must illustrate ‘important aspects of the nation’s social, economic, cultural, or military history’. If it can’t be deemed important on these grounds then it might have a historical association with a nationally important persons such as a writer, politician or artist.

    Age and Rarity

    Holy Trinity Church in Colchester is the oldest church in the town, with parts dating back to 1020. Credit: Wikipedia [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]
    The older a building is, the more likely it is that it will be the last of its kind, and therefore of note. Buildings that have been built before 1700 and contain a significant section of their original structure are automatically listed. Most buildings from between 1700 to 1840 are listed, however due to the boom in construction, during this time greater selection is required. Generally speaking, no building is considered for listing that is less than thirty years old, whilst a great amount of care is needed to decide if any structure built from 1945 onwards is worthy of being listed.

    For more information on the listing process you can head to Historic England’s site.