In the UK a listed building, is a property that has been placed on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. It is a widely used status, applied to around half a million buildings in the UK, with over 375,000 entries in England.
Categories of listed Buildings
Buildings built before 1700 which survive in near original condition will be listed, as will those properties built between 1700 and 1840. The criteria for listing become tighter with time, post-1945 buildings have to be exceptionally important to be listed. Normally, a building has to be over thirty years old to be considered for listing.
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.
Although most structures appearing on the lists are buildings, other structures such as bridges, monuments, sculptures, war memorials, and even milestones and mileposts and the Beatles’ Abbey Road pedestrian crossing 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.
What can be listed
Almost anything can be listed as it does not have to be a building. Buildings and structures of special historic interest come in a wide variety of forms and types, ranging from telephone boxes and road signs, to castles. English Heritage has created twenty broad categories of structures, and published selection guides for each one to aid with assessing buildings and structures. These include historical overviews and describe the special considerations for listing each category. Neither Historic Scotland nor Cadw appear to have published comparable guidelines for particular categories (as of June 2011) although both organisations produce guidance for owners.
For further reading download pdf Principles of Selection for Listing Buildings
Procedure for listing or delisting
In England, to have a building considered for listing or de-listing, the process is to submit an application form online to English Heritage. The applicant does not need to be the owner of the building to apply for it to be listed. Full information including application form guidance notes are on the English Heritage website. English Heritage assesses buildings put forward for listing or de-listing and provides advice to the Secretary of State on the architectural and historic interest. The Secretary of State, who may seek additional advice from others, then decides whether or not to list or de-list the building.
In Wales, applications are made using a form obtained from the relevant local authority. There is no provision for consent to be granted in outline. When a local authority is disposed to grant listed building consent, it must first notify the National Assembly (i.e. Cadw) of the application. If the planning authority decides to refuse consent, it may do so without any reference to Cadw.
In Scotland, applications are made on a form obtained from Historic Scotland. After consulting the local planning authority, the owner, where possible, and an independent third party, Historic Scotland makes a recommendation on behalf of the Scottish Ministers.