Listed buildings

The page provides information about listed buildings, their maintenance, upkeep and planning guidelines for them.

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Find out about what qualifies as a listed building, which buildings there are in Northumberland and how owning one affects you.

What is a listed building?
A listed building is a building, object or structure that has ‘special architectural or historic interest’ and is considered to be of national importance, and therefore worth protecting.

Listing protects these places from unauthorised demolition and unsympathetic change, but it can’t completely stop change. It simply aims to ensure future changes do not cause harm.

A listed building will be included on the National Heritage List for England.

They normally include:
  • all buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition
  • most buildings built between 1700 and 1840
Post-1945 buildings have to be exceptionally important to be listed and normally more than 30 years old.

A listed building is protected inside and out and may also include other buildings around the curtilage, including:
  • walls and railings
  • gates
  • gatehouses
  • stables, barns, cart sheds, dairies and privies
  • urns
  • statues
Listed buildings are graded into three categories, based on their importance.
  • Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest, sometimes considered internationally important. Only 2.5% of listed buildings in England are Grade I and there are 169 in Northumberland.
  • Grade II* buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest. 5.5% of listed buildings in England come under this category and there are 265 in Northumberland.
  • Grade II buildings are nationally important and of special interest. 92% of listed buildings in England come under this category and there are 5,128 in Northumberland.
In England there are approximately 347,081 listed building entries.

Listed buildings are protected by the Planning Act 1990, which is in place to ensure any alterations are sympathetic to the building’s character.

Which Northumberland buildings are listed?
There are approximately 5,562 listed buildings in the area.

You can find out for free which are listed: How does a building become listed?
Listing is carried out by Historic England and anyone can ask for a building to be listed.
Owning or living in a listed building doesn’t mean you can’t change things. It just means consent must be applied for if you plan on making changes that may affect its special interest. Find out more below.

Historic England Advice Note 16: Listed Building Consent gives general advice for owners of listed buildings about listed building consent as an application process and how to judge whether proposals need consent, how to achieve certainty on the need for consent and how to make informed applications. It also gives advice on works which may or may not need listed building consent, depending on how the works are proposed to be carried out.

Making repairs and alterations
If you own a listed building you have a duty to:
  • keep it in reasonable repair
  • apply for listed building consent if you want to alter, extend, add to or demolish any part of it
Consent is required for most types of work. 

If you’re proposing to carry out works that don’t need listed building consent then you can apply for a certificate of lawfulness of proposed works to a listed building, however there is no obligation to do so. More information can be found on our planning webpage and on the Historic England website.

If you’re unsure what it covered then please contact us for advice.

Information is also available from the Listed Property Owners Club and the Institute of Historic Building Conservation.

Carrying out work without consent is a criminal offence, even if you didn’t know the building was listed. You could receive a fine or even a prison sentence, as well as being made to put the building back to how it was.

In cases of deliberate neglect, we have powers (including courts) to ensure repairs are carried out. If you are served with formal notices or summonses in connection with a listed build, seek professional advice.
You can also contact us for advice.

Work that usually requires consent
Work which does not usually require consent includes:
  • repairs to windows or doors, providing they are carried out like-for-like. However a change in materials, appearance or colour may require consent.
  • building a separate building within the curtilage, but planning permission may be required
  • localised or isolated repair of the roof covering, providing the repair is done using exactly the same material - where possible existing pantiles/tiles/slates should be re-used (consent may be required if there are any proposed changes to the roof timbers or structure or to the appearance of the roof as part of works).
  • regular maintenance
  • ‘like for like’ repairs carried out in matching materials, design and form
  • inside repainting and redecorating
  • replacing modern bathroom or kitchen fittings
Work which does usually require consent includes:
  • replacing windows or doors, even if the new windows/doors are to be of the exact same design, material and finish
  • building a conservatory, porch or extension if the structure is attached to the main building or curtilage buildings
  • extensive repairing or replacing the roof covering - where possible existing pantiles/tiles/slates should be re-used, and any proposed changes to the roof timbers or structure or to the appearance of the roof as part of works.
  • installing a satellite dish, if the dish is to be erected on any part of the building or curtilage buildings
  • repainting the exterior of the property, if the building has not been painted before or if the proposed new colour affects the character and appearance of the building
  • putting up a fence, wall or installing gates within the curtilage of a listed building, if the structure is to be attached to the main building or any curtilage building
  • demolishing any structure or building within the curtilage of a listed building
  • fitting solar panels or wind turbines, if they need to be fixed to the building, which may change the character and/or appearance. We also need to make sure any installations do not unnecessarily disturb or destroy historic fabric and ensure there is minimum intervention and any work is reversible, should the devices need to be removed in the future.
Planning permission may also be required.

How consent is different from planning permission
Consent and permission are different, although the same documents can generally be used.

The aim of applications for consent is that special consideration is given to the effect of works on the architectural or historic interest.

The aim of planning permission is to ensure proposed development or change is in accordance with national and local planning policies.

In determining applications for planning permission, a greater number of issues must be considered.

Grade I and II* buildings may be eligible for Historic England grants for urgent major repairs. Find out more here.

Energy saving guidance
Historic England produces information and guidance to help to make your historic building energy efficient.
Listed building consent must be applied for if you plan on making changes which could affect a building’s special interest.

Pre-application advice
If you are planning to make alterations which may affect the character of the building, please make a pre-application enquiry and we’ll be able to tell you if you need listed building consent. 

If you need to make repairs or routine maintenance on your building, and you are using the same materials as already exist, you probably won’t need listed building consent but we recommend you check regardless.

More information can be found under listed buildings on our planning webpage, the Historic England website, and the Planning Portal.

Apply for consent
Listed building consent applications are free. For more information on how to apply, please see our planning webpage.

You will also need to submit a heritage statement with your consent application. View our guidance on compiling a heritage statement here.

If you also need planning permission for your proposal, then the two applications can be submitted together.
Except for the simplest applications, it is advisable to employ an agent who is familiar with the policies and procedures of the council.

The council’s policies can be found in the consolidated planning policy framework. The planning portal also contains general information and advice.
Most development affecting heritage assets needs planning permission or listed building consent. 

Since the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) any application affecting heritage assets needs to include an assessment of the significance of the asset and its setting. This statement should also consider the impact the proposed development may have on the significance of the heritage asset.

View our guidance on compiling a heritage statement here.
It’s important we preserve and look after our architectural heritage. Find out how to help below.

Report a building at risk
If you know of a historic building which is derelict or not well-preserved, please contact us. We will inspect the building and inform you of action we plan to take.

Action we can take
In cases of neglect we have powers that require the owners to carry out urgent repairs to safeguard the building’s future. In some circumstances we can apply to ‘compulsory purchase’ a building.

If you are served with these summonses or formal notices, you should seek professional advice.

Heritage at Risk
Historic England seeks to identify and aid buildings and structures that are endangered, through their Heritage at Risk programme.