Listed and Historic Buildings

Listed Buildings

A 'listed building' is a building, object or structure that has been judged to be of national historical or architectural interest.

It is included on a register called the "List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest", drawn up by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). It is an offence to demolish or alter a listed building without first getting listed building consent from the Local Planning Authority.

Historic Buildings

There are many historic buildings in South Northamptonshire which contribute to its special character. Many of these buildings have been identified as being nationally or locally important and benefit from varying degrees of protection through the planning process. Historic buildings can be protected in a number of different ways. Listing is the highest form of protection, but some unlisted buildings in conservation areas are also protected from demolition and some types of alteration.

Is my building listed?

To find out whether a building is listed, and to see images of listed buildings, go to the Heritage Gateway website and click "searching".

To check if a building is covered by any other designation please check the Council's Online Mapping service.

There are over 1,800 listed buildings in South Northamptonshire. Buildings are listed because they are considered to be of national importance and once listed, all works which affect their character or historic fabric - both internally and externally - as well as any alterations to most other buildings or structures within their curtilage, will need Listed Building Consent.

It is a criminal offence to carry out unauthorised works to a listed building. If unauthorised work takes place, both the owner of the building and the workman carrying out the work may be prosecuted and risk an unlimited fine and up to two years in prison.

There is no need to apply for listed building consent for regular maintenance work such as re-painting doors and windows in the same colour or mending something which has broken. However, if you intend to remove an element of the building (eg a door, a window frame, or the roofing material) and replace it with something new, or paint an element of the building which is not currently painted, or install tanking or damp-proof treatments, it is likely that listed building consent will be needed. All major works, including taking down internal walls, will also require listed building consent.

Historic England (formerly English Heritage) are the Government's advisor on the historic environment and considers applications for new listing and de-listings of buildings on behalf of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Anyone can propose a building for listing - just fill in the application form on Historic England's website.

Energy Efficiency and Historic Buildings

We all need to reduce our energy consumption and carbon footprint. Historic buildings are often thought to be inefficient and expensive to heat; however, this is not necessarily the case. Traditional buildings usually have a high thermal mass, which means that they are able to absorb and store heat to maintain a stable internal temperature - cool in summer, warm in winter. They were made using local and sustainable materials such as timber, local stone and thatch and are usually sited to make best use of the local micro-climate.

Old timber doors and windows can be refurbished by a competent joiner to cut down draughts. Other simple changes such as heavy drapes and shutters can help thermal efficiency without affecting the character of the building. This may improve the thermal performance of a set of windows by as much as fitting double glazing, and costs far less than fitting new windows.

To get advice on historic buildings and climate change, see the Historic England website.

Looking after your historic building

Almost all houses built before 1919 were built using lime mortar rather than cement or concrete. Lime mortar is flexible, allowing buildings to accommodate natural movement without unsightly cracking. It is also breathable, enabling the building to absorb and release moisture from the atmosphere without causing damp inside the house. The majority of damp problems in old buildings come about as a result of this "breathability" being compromised by inappropriate use of cement or other impervious materials. Other modern features such as double glazed windows can contribute to damp by sealing the building rather than encouraging the natural flow of air in and around it.

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings provides excellent practical advice on looking after historic buildings.

For professional, specialist advice when planning work on your listed building, you can contact the following professional organisations for lists of qualified professionals (please note these are not regulated by us):

Contact details

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01327 322265

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