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Advice on works to listed buildings

Pre-application advice regarding works to listed buildings

The council has improved its Pre-application Advice Charging Scheme, and this took effect from 1 February 2017. Advice in person and written advice are available through our 'Listed Building Advice (on site)' and 'Listed building advice on minor works/maintenance' services. Full details of the schemes and how to apply for advice are available on our Request pre-application advice page.

Please note, this service excludes properties within the South Downs National Park Authority (opens new window).

Certificate of lawfulness of proposed works to a listed building

If you require formal confirmation that Listed Building Consent will not be required, please submit an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness of Proposed Works to a listed building (opens new window).

Please note: It is not possible for the local planning authority to seek modifications to a proposal submitted to us under this procedure. Instead, if the proposal is not lawful, the authority must refuse the application and suggest that the applicant amends the proposed development in a fresh application. Applicants should ensure that the proposal is described in detail and with precision.

There is no fee for an application for a certificate of lawfulness of proposed works to a listed building.

What is a listed building

A listed building is one included in a statutory list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest compiled and managed by English Heritage. The list is frequently reviewed and changed. Listing a building gives it legal protection, so that it can be preserved for future generations to enjoy. The council has made policies to further safeguard statutorily listed buildings, these are set out in the Chichester District Local Plan. In addition to statutorily listed buildings, the council maintains a 'Local List' of properties in Chichester city that it considers to be architecturally and historically important.

Unauthorised work is a criminal offence

You need to be aware that carrying out unauthorised works to a listed building is a criminal offence and individuals can be prosecuted. The planning authority can insist that all work carried out without consent is reversed. You should therefore always talk to the local planning authority before any work is carried out to a listed building.

An owner will have trouble selling a property which has not been granted Listed Building Consent for work carried out. Changes to the way listed building consent can be granted have been introduced, and are explained on the English Heritage website on the effects of the Enterprise and Regulatory Act 2013.

Listed building guidance - part 1 (PDF) [283KB]

Listed building guidance - part 2 (PDF) [196KB]

Applying for work to a listed building

Listing a building does not mean that it is preserved forever in its existing state. It merely ensures that the architectural and historic interest of a building is carefully considered before any alterations are agreed. A lot of listed buildings can sustain some degree of sensitive alteration or extension. In fact, changes reflecting the history, use and ownership of a building are also an aspect of the special character of a particular property. However some buildings are sensitive to even slight alterations especially if they are small or have particularly important interiors.


  • If you want to carry out small, like-for-like patch repairs to a listed building this might not require a Listed Building Consent application. You should use the same materials that are used in the original house.
  • If you intend to use alternative materials or replace complete features such as windows, doors or staircases then an application is required, even if it is like-for-like.
  • You are advised to contact the Historic Buildings Advisor to confirm whether the work constitutes a repair under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.
  • Any unlawful works which take place without the relevant consents could result in enforcement action being taken against the owner.


  • If you wish to do any other works to the building, including building an extension, demolition of any part of the building (including internal walls), or putting up partitioning, then a Listed Building Consent Application is required even if planning permission is not.
  • The removal of key fixtures and fittings also requires Listed Building Consent. For example, the removal of fireplaces and historic panelling.
  • If you suspect that your property has historic decoration, changing this may require Listed Building Consent.
  • For some works more than one permission may be required. For example, planning permission and listed building consent may be needed for an extension.
  • Gaining one permission does not automatically mean that the other will be granted. You must wait for decisions on all the required permissions before starting work.

Apart from agreed repairs all works to a listed building need Listed Building Consent regardless of its Grade. This includes any internal alterations.

Before submitting an application you are advised to contact us about what you propose. Although they cannot guarantee a favourable decision they can point you in the right direction.

Claiming back VAT

VAT can be claimed back by your builder on some works to listed buildings. Generally, VAT needs to be paid on repairs and ordinary maintenance but not paid on approved alterations. Please note that you must have Listed Buildings Consent for any alterations on which you wish to claim back VAT. We do not refund the VAT. This is done through the VAT office. For further information, contact their National VAT Advice Line.

Name: VAT National Advice Line

Address: United Kingdom

Tel: +44 0845 0109000

Getting a building listed

Applications should be sent to English Heritage, who administer the list. Requests for a building to be spot listed can be made at any time although priority will be given to those buildings which are under threat. As well as your reasons for wanting the building listed, you should try to include:

  • the address of the property in question and a location plan showing, wherever possible, the position of any other listed buildings nearby
  • clear, up-to-date external and internal photographs where possible
  • any information about the building, e.g. date
  • details of specialised function (such as industrial use)
  • historical associations
  • the name of the architect if known
  • the building's group value in the street scene
  • details of any interior features of interest with photographs if available
  • the daytime telephone number of the owner or his or her agent who may be able to give access to the building for an inspection.

The more information which is supplied the quicker the listing process.

Local Historic Buildings Officers do not have the power to list buildings but are more than happy to offer help and advice if you wish to pursue the listing of a building. If you notice any discrepancies on the list, i.e. change in house name or address please notify English Heritage at the same address so the list can be updated.

De-listing buildings

There is currently no statutory right of appeal against the listing of a building. However if you feel a listing should be reconsidered you may make representations to English Heritage that a building should be de-listed if you think:

  • the listing is a mistake
  • the building does not have any special interest
  • listing may once have been right, but the building has been altered to such an extent since the listing took place that it has lost its special interest

There are no forms to fill in and no time limits.

You should send evidence to the Heritage Protection Operations Department at English Heritage, as well as photographs and a location plan. This evidence should relate to the loss of special architectural or historic interest of the property. The buildings condition, the cost of maintaining and repairing it or the wish to redevelop the site are not considered valid reasons to de-list a building. English Heritage will also need to know whether you have applied for planning permission or listed building consent (or are about to do so) to carry out works on your property; and, if so, what the proposed works are.

How do I apply for Listed Building Consent?

Listed Building Consent applications should be sent to us.

By virtue of the importance of the buildings, the drawings required for Listed Building Consent need to be more detailed than those required for planning applications:

  • If you wish to replace any wood work (windows, doors, stairs), 1:10 details should be sent in, showing joinery details and mouldings.
  • If you wish to do work involving disturbance to an original timber frame, drawings showing the frame and what works are intended should be sent in.
  • Photographs of the property are always helpful if available.
  • A statement of support should be sent in. This should explain what you wish to do and why you want to do it as well as detailing what materials are to be used and how the final design decision was reached.
  • An agent and/or architect can be employed to make the application on your behalf. Although this may have a higher initial cost, their expertise may not only help the application to run more smoothly and quickly but make life easier during the construction period. For large schemes, we would highly recommend you take this path.

We cannot recommend agents or architects so it may be worth asking around other listed building owners. You can search for RIBA architects and firms online and in the yellow pages. The Building Conservation Directory has listings for firms specialising in different building techniques (please note that we do not accept responsibility for work carried out sourced through these publications).

Please be aware that work to listed buildings may cost more than work to unlisted buildings.

Listed building grants

Grants for repairs to listed buildings are increasingly hard to find. This is particularly the case for newly acquired buildings, where generally it is assumed that the purchase price took into account the cost of any necessary repair and modernisation works. We no longer offer grants for works to historic buildings. However, for private owners, there are other possibilities:

  • English Heritage can grant aid to 'outstanding' buildings (those that are listed Grade I or Grade II*, but not usually Grade II buildings outside conservation areas). Current priority is for certain very important houses, buildings at risk, and some country houses that have been in long-term ownership. Grants tend to be 40-60% of the costs. They normally have a requirement for some public access or opening. English Heritage also runs a number of schemes, such as the Heritage Economic Regeneration Scheme, which may provide grants for private owners of Grade II buildings in the areas in question for certain works.
  • Heritage Lottery Fund cannot normally help private owners, although it can assist Building Preservation Trusts in the rescue of a building that eventually passes into private ownership.

For further information, the Architectural Heritage Fund (opens new window) has launched a web-based directory of funds for historic buildings.

Implications of owning a listed building

There is no specific duty on owners to keep their buildings in a good state of repair (although it is clearly in their interests to do so). However, the Local Authority does have powers to take action if an historic building has deteriorated to the extent that its future preservation may be at risk.

If we feel that a building is at risk of being lost, we can do the following:

  • Under section 54 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 the Local Authority may carry out urgent works for the preservation of the Listed Building after serving notice on the owner.  The Authority may then recover the cost of these works from the owner(s).
  • Under section 48 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 the Local Authority may serve a repairs notice on the owner.  This notice will specify the works which the Authority considers reasonably necessary for the proper preservation of the building.  This is not restricted to urgent works.
  • If the work hasn't taken place two months after the repairs notice is served, we can start compulsory purchase order proceedings. This is under Section 47 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. It also can include the purchase of any land needed for the purpose of access, amenity or management in connection with the building.

Our first concern is for the upkeep and retention of the Listed Building.  Our preference is always to work with the owners to find the best way forward for the building. If you have any concerns regarding the disrepair of a Listed Building please contact the Contact Centre.

Why are buildings listed?

There are a number of reasons why a building may be listed:

  • Architectural interest - buildings which are of importance to the nation due to their architectural design, decoration or craftsmanship. Also any important examples of particular building types and techniques (either technological innovation or good examples of building techniques) and significant plan form.
  • Historic interest - This includes buildings which illustrate important parts of the nations history either social, economic, cultural or military.
  • Close historical associations - Properties with associations to nationally important people or events, although the building should have some other quality or interest in its physical fabric.
  • Group value - Where a number of buildings make up an important architectural or historic unity or are a good example of planning, for example squares, terraces or model villages.

Not all of these reasons apply to every case but some buildings will be listed as they fulfil more than one of the criteria.

The age and rarity of a building are relevant considerations especially when buildings are proposed for listing on the strength of their historic interest. With older buildings there is a tendency is for fewer examples to survive and therefore they are more likely it is to have historic importance.

  • All buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like their historic state should be listed.
  • Most buildings built between 1700 and 1840 should also be listed although there is more selection in this age group.
  • After 1840 there were far more buildings constructed and many of these have survived, because of this selection is much more rigorous and only buildings of definite character and quality are listed.
  • Buildings built after 1914 are selected under the same criteria.
  • Buildings which are less than thirty years old are only listed if they are of outstanding quality and are under threat.
  • Buildings less than ten years old cannot be listed.

Buildings are listed because they are considered nationally important. For instance the best examples of local vernacular building types will normally be listed. A lot of buildings are also valued for their contribution to the local scene and/or local historical associations. These may not qualify for listing but could be protected by conservation area designation if located within such an area.


Contact us 

For further information and advice email Alternatively, you can phone us on 01243 534734.