Listed buildings

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport compiles a list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest.

These buildings are usually known as listed buildings, and there are now around 500,000 of them in Britain. Cambridge has more than 1,500 listed buildings.

The list include a range of structures, from the remains of Roman buildings to offices built in the 1970s, from lamp posts to castles.

The grades of listing

There are three grades of listed building:

  • Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest. Only about two per cent of listed buildings are in this category
  • Grade II* buildings are of particular importance. Around four per cent of listed buildings are in this category
  • Grade II buildings are of special interest. 94 per cent of listed buildings are covered by this grade

Extent of listing

When a building is listed, all of the building itself, anything fixed to it, and also most buildings and structures in its grounds are part of the listed building.

The inside as well as the outside of a building is listed.

Works needing listed building consent

You will need consent for:

  • demolition of all or part of a listed building (including buildings and structures in the curtilage)
  • alterations (including internal works) that affect the character of the building
  • extensions
  • repairs that involve replacing important parts of the building's fabric, or using different materials (such as replacing a slate roof with tiles)

Works without consent

When a building is listed, it is an offence to carry out works to the building that affect its architectural or historic interest without the approval of Planning Services.

You could be liable to prosecution, and be made to rectify any changes you have made. The maximum penalty could include imprisonment and unlimited fines.

Is a building listed?

One way to check whether a building in Cambridge is listed is to check the property constraints using our Public Access system.

In Public Access, go to the Property tab and select the street for the building concerned. You will then be given a list of all the properties in that street from which you can choose the building you are interested in.

The constraints tab gives information regarding the property, for example whether it is a listed building, and if so what grade, and whether it is in a conservation area, and if so which one. It does not currently indicate whether a property  is a building of local interest.

Another way to check is through the Historic England's list of nationally protected historic places. This enables you to search for a building by address.

Please note: this information is accurate to the best of our knowledge, but is not intended to be a definitive list. If you understand the information to be incorrect or if the address is different to what you were expecting, please contact the Urban Design and Conservation team (see below) for confirmation.

Common misunderstandings

All of the building, inside and out, and most buildings and structures in the grounds are part of the listed building.

No matter what grade the building is, if the works affect the building's character, you will need to apply for listed building consent.

Often later alterations are just as important as the original design because they show the development of the building. Their removal usually needs consent.

You will only need to apply for listed building consent if the works affect the character of the building.

Applying for listed building consent

When thinking about altering your listed building, you should contact the Urban Design and Conservation team at planning.conservation@cambridge.gov.uk to discuss your ideas.

Officers can visit the property and give you advice on applying for listed building consent.

The listed building consent application forms contain notes about the information that you will need to provide.

Employing an architect or specialist with experience of dealing with historic buildings will usually make applying for listed building consent easier.

Other matters

If you deliberately neglect a listed building we can make you carry out repairs or even compulsorily purchase the building in some cases.

Contact

Email the Urban Design and Conservation team at planning.conservation@cambridge.gov.uk or telephone 01223 457200. You can also write to the team at:

PO Box 700
Cambridge CB1 0JH.

The team can answer your questions and provide advice including:

  • which works need consent
  • repairs and alterations
  • grants.

Please note that sometimes building alterations also need other types of approval such as planning permission or building regulations approval.

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