Skip to content

Do I need planning or listed building consent?

Planning or listed building consent are not always necessary for listed buildings. Suppose the work involves just maintenance or like-for-like repairs. For instance, replacing some fallen slates or repainting the window frames in the same colour, you can be confident that you can carry on with no extra paperwork. For peace of mind, it is always good to check with your local planning department. Email them a description of the work and images of the damage you intend to repair. This way, you will be sure no misunderstanding could arise while carrying out the work.

planning and listed building consent needed for retrofit

Planning permission

Planning permission relates to development and change of use. In general, works affecting the outside of buildings need planning permission. Specific works like subdividing a house or creating a basement also need planning permission, despite being internal. You will usually need a planning application for any new external works to your listed building, including new extensions, conservatories, new rooflights or dormers, and any demolition of an external element.

In some cases, Permitted Development Rights, which applies only to certain types of buildings, like detached houses, would allow for works without the need for a planning application. This privilege, granted by the General Permitted Development Order, is not applicable if the house is a listed building. You will need to apply for planning permission and listed building consent to carry out the work.

Grade I listed Chatsworth

Works affecting the exterior of your listed building? Change of use? You most certainly need planning permission. Also doing internal works? Then you probably need listed building consent too.

Listed building consent

Listed building consent is the process of applying for any works in your listed building that might affect its significance. That includes internal and external alterations, as heritage protection is not limited to the facade. It is neither limited to those elements mentioned in Historic England’s List (the National Heritage List for England).

Even those parts of your building that don’t look old might be relevant. Rather than supposing you don’t need consent, you should ensure you have all permissions and guarantees before altering your listed building. Discuss your case with your local authority or a listed building expert to avoid getting in trouble or damaging your building irreversibly.

When your proposal involves only internal alterations, you will only need a listed building consent. For instance, if you want to refurbish a room, demolish a wall, or create a new door. But if you propose internal and external works, you’ll need a planning application and a listed building consent.

Although a topic on its own, please pay attention to any curtilage. The same protection rules might apply to outbuildings surrounding your listed building. That is often the case with historic walls and railings. 

Works to railings might need planning application and listed building consent

The purpose of listed building consent

The requirement for listed building consent, is an effort to safeguard the architectural and historic interest of your building. The process invites proposals to enhance, rather than undermine, the qualities of your building. Proposals should consider the peculiarities of each specific building and avoid harm to the building’s significance. If a detrimental impact is unavoidable, ways to minimise it should be part of the strategy.

Note that changes to buildings adjacent to listed buildings, or construction of new buildings in their surrounding area can also impact the significance of a listed building. Although a planning application might suffice in that case, you will certainly benefit from including a heritage statement as part of your application.

Building at risk requires planning and listed building consent to be brought back to live

What are the risks if I don't apply for planning or consent?

Damage to the building’s significance is the most immediate risk. Loss of historic value might result from rushed decisions or where there was no attempt to understand the building. Applying for listed building consent allows you to design a proposal that is empathetic with your building’s architectural and historic significance.

Moreover, carrying out unauthorised works is a criminal offence. You could incur fines and the need to undo the work, going back to the pre-existing condition (if an Enforcement Notice was served). You can see cases where owners were charged in IHBC’s Historic Buildings Prosecution fines ( national database 2018).

Unauthorised works could also bring you trouble when selling, or buying, a listed building. Either the freeholder or the buyer could request repairs, compensation for the damage or the payment of Indemnity Insurance to protect the new owner from the monetary loss for future claims.

I received permission and consent. Is that all?

Following a planning approval or listed building consent, you will need to make sure you comply with Building Regulations. Building regulations apply to all cases where the proposed works affect structural elements, fire, energy, or health and safety aspects.

Before applying for planning permission, it is crucial to have a view of how building regulations will be implemented. That way, any requirements will be well integrated as part of the design. If major changes to the proposal are required, you will need to reapply. In cases when unexpected changes are needed, a non-material amendment to your application could solve the issue.


To know if you need planning permission and/or listed building consent, assess the type of work you require. Is it like-for-like repairs, external or internal alterations? Is your building listed or adjacent to a listed building? Contact the planning department at your local or district council if in doubt. You can also find further information on the Planning Portal.

Let Historic Building Studio take care of planning application and listed building consent. You can book a free 15min consultation or a home consultation to discuss possibilities in further detail with your listed building expert. And if you decide to work with me, you won’t need to worry too much about if you need planning permission or listed building consent, as I will submit the application for you.