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Listed Buildings

Find out about the Listed Buildings in Fenland and when Listed Building Consent is required.

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What is a listed building?

A listed building can be a building or structure, which has been recognised for its architectural and historic interest and has been afforded statutory/legal protection accordingly.

Listed Buildings are protected under the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Area) Act 1990, which means they are protected in law. You are required under this law to obtain Listed Building Consent if you are seeking to undertake any works to a listed building which involves its extension, alteration or demolition. It is a criminal offence to undertake works involving the extension, alteration or demolition of a listed building without the prior approval of Listed Building Consent.

Buildings are officially listed by Central Government. That responsibility currently falls to the Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport who will be guided by English Heritage. When buildings or structures are selected for listing, they are considered on the merits of their architectural and/or historic interest. This takes into account:

  • design
  • detail
  • craftsmanship
  • example of type
  • possible cultural and social associations
  • association with a noted person

In Fenland, there are 656 identified listed buildings and structures. This includes houses, churches, bridges and sluices, mileposts, war memorials and warehouses.

The Museum and Wisbech Society links may provide useful information if you are researching listed buildings.

Why are there different grades of listed buildings?

Listed buildings and structures are allocated one of three grades; either Grade I, II* or II. While the grading is taken as an indicator of the relative importance of the building, they are all afforded legal protection in the same way. The broad classification of Grades are:

  • Grade I - buildings of national interest. These account for about 2% of listed buildings.
  • Grade II* - buildings of particular importance of more than special interest, often with high quality interiors. These account for 4% of listed buildings.
  • Grade II - includes 94% of all listed buildings, representing a major element in the historic quality of our towns, villages and countryside.

In Fenland 10 buildings are afforded Grade I listed status, 42 buildings are afforded Grade II* status and the remaining 604 are Grade II listed.

Which part of a listed building is protected?

When a building or structure is listed, it is the whole of the building or structure which is protected both externally and internally. It is a common misconception that it is only the exterior of Grade II listed buildings which are protected - however this is not true as their interiors are protected in the same way as a Grade I listing.

Under S1 (5) Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Area) Act 1990, the listing also extends to "any object or structure fixed to the building and any other object or structure within the curtilage of the building which, although not fixed to the building, forms part of the land and has done so since 1st July 1948." Structures which can be protected alongside with the principle listing can include garden walls and boundaries, outbuildings, barns and other ancillary structures. If you are undertaking works to a listed building or structure within the grounds of a listed building, it is advisable to establish the acceptability of works with the Conservation Officer at an early stage.

When is Listed Building Consent required?

Listed Building Consent is required by law to carry out works which involve extension, alteration or demolition of a listed building. An alteration may include internal and external changes to a building including the wholesale replacement of fabric. For example, the wholesale replacement of historic windows is considered an alteration which requires consent - even if the work is being undertaken on a like for like basis.

However, the law does not seek to prevent owners or occupants from looking after their listed buildings. You can commence with works of general maintenance and localised repair without consent. If you are undertaking works to a listed building, it is advisable to discuss proposals with the Conservation Office at an early stage, especially if you are looking to clarify whether Listed Building Consent will be required.