Listed Building Consent

Find out whether your property needs listed building consent or whether it is in a conservation area.


What are Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas?

Some of Colchester's older properties have statutory protection as listed buildings and a number of local areas have been designated as conservation areas to protect their special character and appearance. Tighter planning controls apply to both listed buildings and houses in conservation areas.

If you own a listed building, you are strongly encouraged to talk to us prior to starting any work on your property. Listed building consent (LBC) is needed for any work (inside or outside) to be carried out that would affect its special character and/or appearance in any way.

It is a criminal offence to carry out such works without consent.

If you think after reading the information available on our website first, that your proposal will require consent and you now want some site specific advice then you should submit a preliminary enquiry.

If you know that your works require consent, and you don't want to talk to our heritage expert by making a pre-application enquiry, you can proceed straight to making a planning application.

What is listed building consent (LBC)?

Listed building consent (LBC) is needed for any work to be carried out to a listed building that would affect its special character and/or appearance in any way. It is a criminal offence to carry out any works without consent.

Do I need listed building consent?

If you wish to make internal or external alterations which affect the character of a listed building or extend or demolish part or all of a listed building, you will require listed building consent.

Listed building consent may also be required for any works to buildings within the grounds of a listed building.

Even relatively minor changes such as painting, repairs and the removal of gateposts and walls may affect the character of a listed building. Small changes to the exterior might not look a big deal in isolation, but they add up and could cumulatively have a big effect on the character or appearance of the building.

Because of this, even small-scale alterations like adding a roof light, creating new external openings, removing or lowering a chimney, altering the boundary wall, adding a satellite dish or solar panel, painting or rendering stonework, creating flue openings, building decking and adding external pipework all need listed building consent.

Below is a list of common projects that clarify when consent is normally required.

  • Repair windows/doors - No, providing they are carried out in a like-for-like manner but if there are changes in materials, appearance or in some cases colour, consent may be required.
  • Replace windows/doors - Yes, even if the new windows/doors are to be of the exact same design, material and finish.
  • Build a conservatory, porch or extension - Yes if attached to the main building or curtilage buildings. Planning permission may also be required.
  • Build a separate building or structure within the curtilage - No, but planning permission may be required.
  • Install a satellite dish - Yes, if the dish is to be erected on any part of the building or curtilage buildings. Planning permission may also be required.
  • Repaint the exterior of the property - Yes, if the building has not been painted before or if the proposed new colour affects the character and appearance of the building.
  • Repair/replace the roof covering No, providing the repairs or replacement roof covering are done using exactly the same material. Where possible existing pantiles/tiles/slates should be re-used. Consent may be required if there are any proposed changes to the roof timbers or structure or to the appearance of the roof as part of re-roofing works.
  • Put up a fence, wall or install gates within the curtilage of a listed building - If the structure is to be attached to the main building or any curtilage building, then Listed Building Consent may be required. Planning permission may also be required.

How do I find out if my property is a listed building or in a conservation area?

How do I find out if my property is a listed building or in a conservation area?

These can be seen using our Planning Map system.

This will allow you to see Listed Buildings (and other constraints) by clicking on the map of the Borough. You can also go to the Historic England website (formerly English Heritage) to view the listing details and search by address.

Please remember that property names do change and you may need to search under a previous name or number.

What is the difference between Grade I, Grade II* & Grade II?

  • Grade I - of exceptional national architectural or historic importance
  • Grade II* - of particular national importance & special interest
  • Grade II - of special architectural or historic interest and make up about 94% of all listed buildings

Both Grade I and II* listed buildings are of great importance to the nation's built heritage and their importance will generally be beyond dispute. However, all Listed Buildings are important.

What is a list description?

A list description is a report which identifies a building by giving a history of the structure and a description of the historical features and character of the building.

How can I get a copy of a list description?

You can find a list description via the Historic England website. Searches can be made in several different ways, i.e. Parish/Street/House Name or No. etc. Please remember that property names can change so it is worth checking that the description is the correct one for the property you are searching for.

Is the whole of the building included in the listing?

Yes, the whole building is listed and that includes the inside as well as the outside and also any object or structure fixed to the building. The area of land around a listed building within the boundaries is called the 'curtilage' and any pre 1st July 1948 building or structure within this area is also deemed to be listed along with the boundary walls, railings, gates and possibly garden features.

Do I need consent to demolish any structure or building within the curtilage of a listed building?

Yes, for curtilage buildings erected prior to 1948.

Not required for curtilage buildings erected after 1948.

Do I need consent to fit solar panels or wind turbines to a listed building?

Consent will be required to fit any renewable technology devices to a listed building as in most cases they need to be fixed to the building which may change the character and/or appearance. We also need to ensure that any installations do not unnecessarily disturb or destroy historic fabric and ensure that there is minimum intervention and that any work is reversible, should the devices need to be removed in the future.

Installation of renewable technology devices may also need planning permission.

Useful Historic England documents are available here:

It is the council's decision whether the works will affect the character of a building, so it is important to find out whether listed building consent is required before carrying out any works. To do this, you should submit an Application for a Lawful Development Certificate for Proposed Works to a listed building (PDF).

You should also read the Application for a Certificate guidance notes (PDF) before making an application. 

Do repairs and maintenance require listed building consent?

If the repairs are on a "like for like" basis, and truly "repairs", then no.

However, if your repairs involve the use of a different material such as artificial slate instead of stone slate, uPVC instead of timber, cement based render or mortar instead of lime based render or mortar then you will be altering the character and appearance of the listed building and therefore listed building consent would be required.

Justification would be needed to change the materials or traditional detailing found on a listed building. It should be noted that the replacement of a door or window will always need listed building consent, as this would be classed as an alteration rather than repair.

You should ensure your tradesmen are familiar with the requirements for works to listed buildings before appointing them as you would both be liable if any offence took place.

How should I go about improving my listed building?

When undertaking works to a listed building as far as possible you should:

  • Repair rather than replace the original fabric of the building
  • Keep original features e.g. doors, windows
  • If you have to replace features, use traditional materials and follow original designs
  • Match existing materials like-for-like
  • Design internal alterations so that they are in keeping with the character of the buildings
  • Avoid modern materials and components which look out of place and may harm the fabric of the building, keep alterations to a minimum

You should not:

  • Stone clean buildings unless there are exceptional circumstances
  • Paint or render stonework
  • Remove architectural features such as original doors, windows, mullions and decorative stonework
  • Add new pipework, flues or alarm boxes on principal elevations
  • Demolish or lower chimney stacks or remove pots
  • Replace walls and roofs with non-traditional materials or turn roofing slates
  • Demolish boundary walls and gates
  • Re-point using strap or ribbon pointing or use hard cement mortar mix

Does listing control absolutely everything I can do to the inside of a building?

No. Listing is there to protect the historic fabric and character of the building for future generations, so replacing modern fittings like kitchen and bathroom suites, redecorating or other minor internal alterations would not normally require listed building consent.

However, if your listed building contains features like old fireplaces, decorative plasterwork, panelling or flooring these features may well contribute to the building's special interest.

To find out if you need consent, you can submit an Application for a Lawful Development Certificate for Proposed Works to a listed building (PDF).

You should also read the Application for a Certificate guidance notes (PDF) before making an application. 

How can I apply for listed building consent?

You can download application forms, although we encourage you to submit planning applications online via the Planning Portal, as over 95% of our customers do.

This is the simplest way of submitting an application and will ensure that it arrives with a Planning Officer faster than if you post or hand deliver an application (as it skips several back office processes).

If you also need planning permission for your proposal, then the two separate applications should be submitted together using one of the combined planning and listed building consent forms provided.

What about VAT on works to a listed building?

Where listed building consent is required for works then VAT could be 'zero rated', providing the building is designed as a dwelling or used for qualifying residential or non-business charity purposes (or is being converted to such use).

It is your responsibility to ensure VAT is paid correctly.

If you are in doubt, you should obtain competent professional advice or contact HM Revenue & Customs.

What happens if unauthorised works are carried out on a listed building?

It is a criminal offence to carry out works to a listed building which affects its character and appearance without our prior approval. If you do, you could be liable to prosecution, and/or be made to change what you have done.

The maximum penalty could include imprisonment and unlimited fines. Unauthorised works to a listed building exist as long as the building is on the list.

If an owner carries out work which is not detected by the council, it can cause problems in the future when the property is sold.

If you think unauthorised works are in process or have taken place then you should inform us immediately.

What is the difference between a listed building and a locally listed building?

Listed Buildings are a national designation giving statutory protection by the Secretary of State.

A Locally Listed Building is a building, structure or feature which was not listed by the Secretary of State, but that is still an important part of Colchester's heritage due to its architectural, historic or archaeological significance.

They are indicated on our Planning Map (shown in green, alongside listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments) and can also be found on the Colchester Historic Buildings Forum website.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) recognises locally listed buildings as "Heritage Assets", which will gives them additional value (and protection) when planning applications are determined.


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