Myths about Listed Buildings

In our latest blog we tackle the subject of listed buildings and the myths that surround them. Listed buildings are not that rare in the UK, in fact in the United Kingdom there are approximately 460,000 properties with Listed building status. These properties are categories into three categories of significance Grade I, Grade II and Grade II*. The vast majority of these fall under the category of Grade II as these make up 92% of listed buildings in the UK.

Grade I – Exceptional national, architectural or historical importance

Grade II – Are buildings with ‘special’ architectural interest.

Grade II* – Are judged to be of particular national importance or special interest

What does Listing mean?

Listing buildings have extra controls placed on them in terms of what adaptations, updates or development can be made. This applies to both internal and external modifications. To make any modifications to a listed building.

Owners of listed buildings must gain consent to make changes. This is done via an application to your local planning office. The idea of this is to prevent unrestricted alteration, extension of demolition of a listed building without the approval of a local planning office.

There are a number of comments or ‘myths’ about listed buildings that we hear so hopefully the list below will ‘bust’ these for you.

Example of listed building: Battersea Power Station


1 – It’s really difficult to make alterations to listed buildings

This is a really easy myth to dispel. Acres Architects have worked on many properties which are listed or have part of the scheme which has listed status. Founder and Managing Director of Acres Architects, Edward Acres, RIBA said “We have a great deal of experience in working on and with listed buildings. We have many examples of adding a modern twist to listed buildings to create a contemporary living space that is respectful of the listed element.”

“As well as our previous experience in developing listed buildings we have great relationships with building control offices in the East Midlands in particular and they know that we understand what is permissible and what is not” It’s important to strike the right balance between the traditional and the contemporary designs we’re renowned for”. It’s really about understanding how the building will be used and making the most out of the original features to make it work for the occupants.

See our portfolio of work including “Church View”

2 – Grade II listed buildings are easier to modify than Grade I

It’s a common myth that the ‘Grade’ has a bearing on how ‘special’ or ‘significant’ it is. Legally speaking there is no difference between Grade I, Grade II or Grade II*. This means that every listed building has national importance and non are more important that any of the others.

 3 – It’s only the exterior of the building that needs permission to change

Again, a fairly common myth we hear about when discussing projects involving listed buildings. However, it’s not true. The legislation for listed buildings covers both inside and out. It also includes structures within the grounds or attached to the existing building.

4 – Nothing will happen if I don’t get the correct consent

This isn’t true and there are several penalties that can be applied to those who do not gain the correct permission to alter or extend a listed building. To be clear it is a criminal offence to carry out work on a listed building, internal and external, without consent. It’s just not worth the risk. It is possible that unpermitted work will be met with a monetary fine and in some cases, although it’s rare, imprisonment. It’s not just the homeowner that is at risk of these punishments these can also be applied to contractors or any professional advisors involved.

It’s also worth being aware that as the building owner you could be responsible for any changes made to the property prior to you  buying it if permission wasn’t gained. You could be forced to make corrections to these changes.

Our advice is to speak to a professionally qualified Architect to ensure the correct process is followed and permission for any modifications is gained. Acres Architects can certainly help in this and give guidance on what is likely to be approved before you get to far into the process. This can help you make the decision to purchase an existing property or help you to determine what modifications can be done.

5 – It’s only old buildings that are listed

Whilst the vast majority of listed buildings in the UK were built before the 19th century it is certainly possible for more recently built properties and structures can gain listed status if they are of significant national interest or perhaps has an association with an event or person.

It’s possible for anyone to contact Historic England to request that a building is given listed status.

Example of listed buildings: Montacute House (1601), China Wharf (1983), National Gallery -Sainsbury wing (1991)

You can check our latest project to involve a listed building here

If you’re looking to start a project whether it is on a listed building or not, we’d love to hear from you.

T: 0115 838 9738



If you’re looking to start a new project we’d love to hear from you. Call 0115 838 9738 or email

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