Last edited 21 Jan 2021

Main author

Nathan Massey Website

Updating Listed Buildings

Temple church BristoliStock 000077184247 Small.jpg



The UK is home to many listed buildings. These are buildings that are on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. Being placed on the list grants particular rights and protections. For example, the building may not be demolished or altered without first gaining permission from the local planning authority.

History of the list

The list as it exists today was created in 1882, but was only commonly used after the Second World War due to the devastation caused by bombing, leading to the loss of many historically and culturally significant buildings. Some of the first buildings placed on the list were given protection from demolition in the event that they suffered from bomb damage.

There have been a number of resurveys in order to readdress any buildings that may not have been included on the list previously.

List grading

There are currently three grades for listed buildings:

Altering a Listed Building

Owners of listed buildings are required to maintain them, and can face criminal proceedings if they allow them to fall into disrepair. However, this often means that alterations are essential, something that may require special permission from the local planning authority, in particular where an alteration is considered to affect the special character of the building.

Carrying out unauthorised work to a listed building is a criminal offence and can lead to a forced reversal of the work. This means that it is absolutely essential to obtain planning permission.

Examples of alterations to listed buildings

It is essential that some listed buildings are updated in order to keep up with current legislation. One example of such alterations is that of Durham Cathedral which is a Grade I listed building. The Cathedral underwent work to install a lift in order to allow access for those with mobility issues. This lift was required to conform with the design of the building in order to avoid detracting from the historic beauty of the building. The project resulted in a glass lift being installed in the Cathedral so as to allow for the architecture to remain the prominent feature of the building.

Find Out More

Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

External References

--Nathan Massey 15:31, 28 Nov 2016 (BST)

Designing Buildings Anywhere

Get the Firefox add-on to access 20,000 definitions direct from any website

Find out more Accept cookies and
don't show me this again