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Listed Buildings – A brief legal guide by Chantal Butters

February 22, 2019

Listed Buildings


Here at the Thomson & Bancks Cheltenham office, we are very fortunate to be located within one of the marvellous Regency Buildings which surround Imperial Square and Gardens. Famous for the stunning architecture harking back to the Georgian period when Cheltenham first became a spa town, the Square and Gardens, along with its majestic Town Hall, have become a hub for visitors and residents alike.

The success story of Cheltenham’s spas in the late 18th Century has meant many of the buildings in the centre of town are of historical interest. That is why over 2602 buildings (and counting) are currently listed, recognising their special architectural and historical value and protecting the buildings by bringing them under planning controls.

It is important that we look after our history and that is why we have asked conveyancing Solicitor, Chantal Butters, to answer some common questions about listed buildings.

So why are buildings listed?

Buildings, such as the one we are located in, are listed if they are considered by the Secretary of State to be of special interest. The general criteria include:

  • Architectural Interest
  • Historical Interest
  • Close Historical Association
  • Group Value

What is included in a listed building?

It is important to note that it is not only the outside of a building which is listed.  Many buildings contain historical or architectural characteristics – therefore, the general rule is that when a building is listed, the whole of the building is included, internally and externally.

‘Curtilage listed’ buildings, structures and objects have the same protection and restrictions imposed on them as a listed building. Curtilage listed buildings are typically ancillary buildings, such as barns and stables, that are located in land associated with the principal building. The following tests are used to identify if a property is curtilage listed:

  • Was the structure constructed before 1st July 1948?
  • Was the structure in common ownership with the principal listed building at the time of listing?
  • Was there a functional relationship between the structures at the time of listing?

What if I want to alter a listed building?

If you own a property which is listed and you wish to alter or even demolish it in a manner which would affect its character, you must first obtain Listed Building Consent from the Council.

What would happen if I did not get Listed Building Consent?

Any unauthorised works carried out to a listed building are a criminal offence, with a maximum sentence of 2 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine. The offence is committed by the person who carried out the works, but also by anyone who caused or instructed the work to be carried out.

When you buy a listed building, you inherit any unauthorised work undertaken by previous owners. As there is no time limit on enforcement action, you may be required to reverse the alteration.

A Listed Building Enforcement Notice may be served by the Council on the owner of the building or anyone that has an interest in the building. The notice has the sole purpose of restoration or alleviating the effects of any unlawful works. Failure to comply with a valid Listed Building Enforcement Notice is itself an offence with potentially an unlimited fine.

It may be possible to obtain retrospective consent after the work has been carried out. However, it is always best practice to apply for Listed Building Consent before work commences on the property. Applying for retrospective consent could prove costly (Council fees and the potential for having to revert the property to its original state), or may not be granted at all!

What should I take into consideration when purchasing a Listed Building?

If you are looking at purchasing a listed property, it is good practice to draw up a checklist before you proceed, including the following:

  • Check if the Property is listed using the search facility on the Historic England website
  • Check if the sellers have made any alterations and whether they have copies of any consents
  • Check the planning register online on the Local Council’s website
  • If consent has been granted, have the alterations have been carried out in accordance with the approved plans?
  • Review of Historic maps and aerial photographs
  • Speak with the local conservation officer at the Council who may have personal knowledge of the building and any alterations
  • Check with the Council if any plans you may have for the property are likely to be approved

So next time you visit our offices, take a moment to admire the architecture surrounding the Square; now, you can appreciate why listings of buildings are so important to ensure that the historical value of these buildings is preserved.

If you are considering purchasing a listed building, or you need assistance in filing any legal documents in relation to listed buildings, Thomson & Bancks are here to assist you in any stage of the process. Contact our Residential Property team and we will be happy to respond and, if you request, provide a quotation for the cost of our services. Get in touch with our specialists today.



Chantal Butters

Chantal is experienced in all areas of Residential Conveyancing; Shared Ownership, Right to Buy, Lease Extensions, Help to Buy, Transfer of Equity and Remortgages. Chantal always aims to make the transaction run as smoothly as possible and to strive towards meeting clients expectations.

Click here to learn more about Chantal Butters

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