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What makes a building listed

Anyone can apply for a building to be listed on the National Heritage List for England, NHLE.

In fact, it isn’t just buildings that can be granted a listing. Archaeological sites, battlefields, even ships can be, however, all must meet their own specific criteria for protection. But what makes a building listed in the first place?

Why list a building?

The purpose of listing a building is to protect buildings that are considered historic or valuable. A building can be granted grade I, grade II* or grade II listings, grade I being the least common and most protected. Most privately or commercially owned listed buildings are likely to have just a grade II listing.

Although this grade is the most relaxed in terms of rules and regulations, it can still be quite difficult to maintain the building depending on the building specifications. Take a look at Historic England’s handy guide regarding making changes to a listed property.


The age of a building has a large part to play in the process of being awarded a listing. No buildings under 30 years old are usually unable to apply for listed status, this is because the buildings need to stand the test of time before being considered.

Buildings made before 1700 are highly likely to be listed, if they are still standing it is likely they have been well-built, thus worth preserving. Properties built after 1945 have very particular criteria in order to be listed, due to the sheer amount of similar builds.


The general condition of the building is always considered when applying for listed status. In order to qualify the building must be in a state worth preserving.

The structural integrity of the building is a factor, but the key points to look out for are how well the distinguishing features of the property have fared throughout the years.


Perhaps the most important factor is the rarity of the building. An old building that is one of a  hundred just like it is far less likely to be awarded listed status than a newer property that is one of a kind. Check out Historic England’s list of rare and remarkable places listed in 2018.

The above examples are just a few of the factors that are considered when adding buildings to The List. Obtaining listed status, or working with a building that has been granted it, is extremely complex.

Buildings have a set of requirements to meet in order to be listed, and there are different sets depending on the type of building. When dealing with listed buildings, it is always best to consult a professional architect before doing any work on them.



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    What makes a building listed