Working on Listed Buildings
Fraher & Findlay
By Lizzie
September 2019

Perrins Court
Grade II Listed
How do we work with Listed Buildings in the studio?
The types of buildings that we have worked on the past decade has varied substantially. Every site and brief is unique, particularly when working in London which is filled with such a diverse built environment.
One type of project that often bridges all the above is either a listed building or locally listed building. Working in London we come across heritage status buildings continuously and have delivered some 30+ refurbishments of listed and locally listed buildings.
Sussex Stables
Grade II Listed Barn
Lambeth Marsh House
Grade II Listed Cottage
What is a listed building? How do I know if my building is listed?

A listed building is a building that has been selected as having a special architectural and historic interest and has a high level of protection within the planning system.

Generally buildings built before 1845 are almost certainly likely to be listed. Buildings built after 1945 can also be listed but their approval as listed has to meet careful selection criteria.

Listed buildings are assessed and selected by Historic England based on an action plan that considers Heritage Action Zones and Heritage at risk amongst other key areas. Buildings can also be nominated to English Heritage for Listed Building Protection. The building has to be eligible and details of this criteria can be found on Historic England's website: https://

Type of Listed Buildings:

There are three types of listing by Historic England:

- Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest.
- Grade II* buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest; 5.8% of listed buildings are Grade II*
- Grade II buildings are of special interest; 91.7% of all listed buildings are in this class and it is the most likely grade of listing for a home owner.

Local Authorities can also assign a status of Local Listing or Building of Townscape Merit to buildings that are not on Historic England's listing database, but they deem worth of heritage status. The National Heritage List for England ontains details of all listed buildings in England. To find out if a property is listed just search The list uk/listing/the-list/
Similarly search your local authorities planning database to identify other heritage constraints on your building.
Grade II Cottage
What does this mean for what works I can do?

Listed Building status does not prohibit works and so there are changes we can make to these buildings. Changes are however more limited than for a non-listed building and also require 'listed building consent' from the local authority. The governance associated with listed building consent is meant to help local authorities balance the site's historic needs against issues such as function, condition and viability.

A really useful resource is Historic England: making-changes-your-property/ The challenges we find however can be the Local Authorities interpretation of balancing the historic needs of the building against the functionality and viability pressures that exist in modern day occupation of the building.
Perrins Court
Grade II Listed
We have successfully gained listed building consent over the years for internal alterations, contemporary interventions and rear extensions across Grade II and Grade II* listed buildings. Many of our projects are evidence that listing does not mean that your building is cloaked in a preservation order preventing change. It does however mean that expectations of what change is manageable is important from the very beginning of the project. An experienced professional team are best placed to guide you through the process.

How will this affect my programme and budget?

Before commencing any listed building project, it is important to be mindful of the fact that the nature of works often requires expertise, however with expertise comes an increase in costs.
Listed buildings are complex and the strategy for their refurbishment and design requires a skilful mind that continuously considers a balanced argument and careful navigation of innovative design around the constraints of the listed building. This is usually reflected in a higher than average design fee to cover the increased amount of information that needs to be prepared and presented at all stages of the project. Planning applications often require a substantial amount more drawing work and specialist reports.

Prepare yourself for a longer than usual planning experience. With most of our listed building projects we advise Clients to consider making a pre-planning application before a full listed building application. This enables us to present the case to the Conservation and Listed Building Officer and provide them with an opportunity to provide feedback that may help shape the design. Positive engagement with the council is a must for all heritage projects.
Listed Building Consent often requires conditions to be discharged in order to manage the use of materials and details before the project starts on site. This means that as part of a further application to the council, window details, facing materials etc need to be submitted and approved by the council over a further 8 week determination period.

Materials used in listed buildings often come with a slightly higher premium. The craftsman-ship associated with the application of these materials can often be a specialist skill which requires the right person to do it.

Roof slates often need to be Welsh slate rather than Spanish slate. Lime mortar repairs to brickwork not standard mortar. Reclaimed brickwork rather than new brickwork. Restoration works to sash windows.
What key considerations should I make for the design process:
Always approach the design in terms of a balanced approach. If there is an area of change, how can you balance that with an area of restoration?
The historic plan form of the building is of critical importance when designing. Ensure that any extension does not over-whelm or distort the original plan or form of the building.
When wanting to remove building elements, ensure that the design accommodates to retain profiles of where the structure would have once stood, ie. walls should have nibs to either side and a downstand to the head.
Consider services and how designing new activities in new rooms will impact on the fabric of the listed building, ie. putting a new bathroom in an old bedroom may not be supported if it requires invasive work to re-route services.
Consider the design of fitted joinery carefully to ensure it is sensitive to existing mouldings.
Grade II Georgian Villa
We don't want to give all our design secrets away, but the above helps illustrate that a design strategy is always required when working with listed buildings. It needs to be considered that is thoroughly explored and detailed.

Anyone who lives in a listed building needs to understand that they are almost custodians of the building whilst living there. Whilst this might not be palatable for everyone, it is the best way we can help our clients understand how to balance their living needs with the protected status of the building.

If you have a project that you would like to discuss with us in the studio, please contact us on 02082916947.

Download PDF
Journal - Working with Listed Buildings - Fraher & Findlay