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What Is A Grade 2 Listed Building?

So you’ve just found out that the property you are planning to buy is a Grade 2 Listed Building or maybe that you are already living in one! You are now wondering what exactly this means for you and your home renovation plans.

While the thought of owning or living in a listed building may put off some people, you do not really need to worry too much as long as you equip yourself with the right information and seek guidance from expert conservation consultants.

Here are some FAQs regarding listed buildings.

What is a Grade 2 Listed Building?

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Grade 2 Listed Buildings are the most common type of listed buildings and make up about 92% of all listed buildings in the UK. This makes it the most likely grade of listing for a homeowner. Grade 2 listed buildings are structures of special interest that warrant preservation efforts. Some prominent Grade 2 buildings include BT Tower, Alexandra Palace and Swansea’s Palace Theatre.

The principal legislation governing this area is Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.

Grade 2 is just one category of the estimated 500,000 listed buildings that are entered on the National Heritage List for England (NHLE). Here are the other two categories:

  • Grade 1 – This class of buildings make up only 2.5% of listed buildings. These buildings are of exceptional interest with outstanding architecture and historic significance. Some famous examples include the Palace of Westminster, Warwick Castle, King’s College London Chapel and Buckingham Palace.
  • Grade 2* - Around 5.8% of listed buildings are Grade 2* which are considered as particularly important buildings of more than special interest. They usually have extra merit such as outstanding interiors. Examples of Grade 2* buildings include Coliseum Theatre in London, Rise Hall in East Riding of Yorkshire and the Manchester Town Hall Extension.

Why are buildings listed?

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The reason buildings are listed is to mark structures that hold national, historical and architectural interest. Listing does not only apply to residential or commercial properties but also to monuments, bridges, gardens and parks.

A listed status legally protects a building from being demolished, extended or inappropriately altered so that its special interest can be preserved. According to the English Heritage, all buildings built before 1700, as well as those constructed between 1700 and 1840 are to be protected.

How are buildings listed?

Anyone can nominate and apply for a building to be listed. These applications are to be submitted to English Heritage, the body who administers the application process. They will then provide expert recommendations to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on which nominations meet the listing criteria.

Below are some of the criteria that are considered when evaluating a building for listing.

  • Age and Rarity – Most buildings built before 1840 are listed buildings while more selection is exercised for buildings built after that year. It is rare for buildings to be listed if they are less than 30 years old unless they are outstanding or under threat.
  • Aesthetic Merits – refers to the visual appeal of the building, but buildings with exceptional historic value may be exempted from this criterion.
  • National Interest - considered distinctive as they may represent a certain region, city or the state.
  • Selectivity – a building has to be the most significant representation of a large number of buildings of a similar type for it to be listed.

Once a building is listed, there will be a list description attached to it. The list description is used to identify the building and provide details about its history, aesthetics and significance. This makes it easier for potential owners to learn why the specific property holds a special historic interest.

What parts of the building are covered in the listing?

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When a building is listed, the listing covers the whole exterior, interior, layout, and any other object or structure attached to the building. Unless parts of the building are specifically excluded in the list description, its entirety is deemed listed.

The listing can also cover:

  • Later extensions or additions.
  • The area of land, boundary walls, railings, and garden features may also be included in the listing (known as the curtilage).

It is best to consult heritage building and conservation experts to ensure what exactly is covered for each building because the unique features of each individual property means that what is listed can widely vary.

How does a listing affect property owners?

When you own a building that is listed, there will be additional rules and guidelines that you have to adhere to if you’re planning to make any changes or improvements to the property.

As a property owner, you may need to apply for Listed Building Consent to ensure that any changes will not affect or detract from the building’s special architectural or historic interest. This consent is separate from Planning Permission which may also need to be secured.

What are the pros and cons of owning a listed building?

Many property owners choose to acquire and live in a listed building because of the uniqueness and historic significance of these properties. If you are living in a listed building, chances are, you are not going to have the cookie-cutter design of modern residential homes.

Depending on the building you own, a listed status may also mean an increase to the value of the property. Another advantage is you may be eligible to apply for grants in case you need to make any repairs or alterations.

What some property owners may see as a disadvantage is the additional requirement and controls over the changes an owner can make to a property. However, if you consult with experts early, this can be an uncomplicated process.

What changes can I make to a listed building?

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The common misconception is that it is impossible to alter listed buildings. But just like any other property, listed buildings are meant to be used and they can be altered and extended with the proper guidance.

What can be changed or altered would need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis because every property is different. What may be okay to alter in one building may not be applicable to another building, even if they hold the same grade.

This is the main purpose of the Listed Building Consent wherein the government will make a decision on what alterations can be made based on the property’s function, condition and historic significance.

When you are planning to alter a listed building, seeking out professional advice can save you time and money. You wouldn’t want to start paying interior decorators or buying materials without the guarantee that you can actually perform the changes. The cost of the expert is a small price to pay compared to the risk of devaluing your property or worse, having to undo the new work.

When is listed building consent required?

If you own or are living in a listed building, keep in mind that any work, repairs or improvements in any part of the building that will in any way affect its special character or appearance would need Listed Building Consent.

Generally, Listed Building Consent is not required for repairs and maintenance carried out on a like for like basis. However it is important that appropriate materials and methods are used.

If you perform any work that did not pass through proper authorisation process, you are committing a criminal offence. This does not mean you should be scared to make any changes, it just means that you have to take the necessary steps required to ensure you are within the guidelines provided.

How do I find out if a property is listed?

If you would like to find out if the building you are planning to buy or if the property you are living in is a Grade 2 listed building, you can search the list provided by Historic England.

You can also contact your local authority planning department or consult with a Conservation and Historic Buildings Team to advise you on all matters relating to all historic and listed buildings projects.