Updating Listed Buildings
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.
There are currently three grades for listed buildings:
- Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest. Grade I buildings account for just 2.5% of the current list.
- Grade II* buildings are particularly important and make up 5.5% of the current list.
- Grade II – are of special interest and account for 92% of listed buildings in the UK.
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.
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.
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