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Greville Watson, 2016
An Introduction to

A listed building, in the United Kingdom, is one that has been placed on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.

A listed building may not be demolished, extended or altered without special permission from the local planning authority, which typically consults the relevant central government agency, particularly for significant alterations to the more notable listed buildings. Exemption from secular listed building control is provided for some buildings in current use for worship, but only in cases where the relevant religious organisation operates its own equivalent permissions procedure. Owners of listed buildings are, in some circumstances, compelled to repair and maintain them and can face criminal prosecution if they fail to do so or if they perform unauthorised alterations. The listing procedure allows for buildings to be removed from the list if the listing is shown to be in error.

For a building to be included on the list it must be a man-made structure that survives in something at least approaching its original state. Although most structures appearing on the list are buildings, other structures such as bridges, monuments, sculptures, war memorials, telephone boxes and milestones are also listed. Ancient, military, and uninhabited structures, such as Stonehenge, are sometimes instead classified as Scheduled Ancient Monuments and protected by much older legislation whilst cultural landscapes such as parks and gardens are currently "listed" on a non-statutory basis. Slightly different systems operate in each area of the United Kingdom, though the basic principles of the listing remain the same.

There are three types of listed status for buildings in England and Wales:

Grade I: buildings of exceptional interest.

Grade II*: particularly important buildings of more than special interest.

Grade II: buildings that are nationally important and of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them.

The statutory criteria for listing include architectural interest, historic interest and close historical associations with significant people or events. Buildings not individually noteworthy may still be listed if they form part of a group that is - for example, all the buildings in a square. This is called "group value". Sometimes large areas comprising many buildings may not justify listing but receive the looser protection of designation of 'conservation area'.

The specific criteria include:

Age and rarity:
The older a building is, the more likely it is to be listed. All buildings erected before 1700 that "contain a significant portion of their original fabric" will be listed. Most buildings built between 1700 and 1840 are listed. After 1840 more selection is exercised and "particularly careful selection" is applied after 1945. Buildings less than 30 years old are rarely listed unless they are of outstanding quality and under threat.

Aesthetic merits:
i.e. the appearance of a building. However, buildings that have little visual appeal may be listed on grounds of representing particular aspects of social or economic history.

Where a large number of buildings of a similar type survive, the policy is only to list the most representative or significant examples.

National interest:
Significant or distinctive regional buildings; e.g. those that represent a nationally important but localised industry.

The state of repair of a building is not deemed to be a relevant consideration for listing.

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