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Luton Borough Council

Statutory register - listed buildings

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

What is a listed building ?
'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) under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. In the Act any object or structure fixed to the building and any object or structure within the curtilage of the building, which although not fixed to the building forms part of the land and has done so since before 1st July 1948, is also treated as part of the listed building.

What are the different grades of listing ?
Listed buildings are placed in one of three grades, which give an indication of their relative importance - Grade I, Grade II* or Grade II. Grades I and II* listed buildings are a small proportion (about 6% nationally) of all listed buildings. They are particularly important to the nation's built heritage as buildings of outstanding architectural or historic interest. The remaining buildings are listed Grade II and represent an important part of our built heritage which is given special protection.
Grading can be changed where re-evaluation takes place after damage or alteration, or as more evidence of a building's history or architectural quality comes to light. But the statutory controls on alterations apply equally to all listed buildings whatever the grade.
What are the criteria for listing ?
The following are the main criteria that DCMS uses in deciding which buildings to include on the statutory list:
Architectural interest: buildings of importance because of their design, decoration and craftsmanship; also important examples of particular building types and techniques and building of significant plan forms.

Historic interest: illustrations of important aspects of the nation's social, economic, cultural or military history.

Historic association: close historical association with nationally important people or events.

Group value: especially where buildings comprise an important architectural or historic group or a fine example of planning e.g. squares, terraces or model villages.

The older a building is, and the fewer the surviving examples of its kind, the more likely it is to have historic importance. All buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition are listed, and most buildings built between 1700 and 1840 are listed. Buildings erected after 1840 may be listed where they are the best examples of particular building types, but only buildings of definite quality and character are listed. Buildings that are less than thirty years old are normally listed only if they are of outstanding quality and under threat. Buildings are not listed until they are at least ten years old.

What are Luton's listed buildings?
Buildings on the Statutory List is available to download below.

How is a building listed ?
Buildings are added (or removed) from the list by the DCMS listing, archaeology and world heritage branch, on the advice of specialist inspectors employed by English heritage. A building is added in one of three ways:

  • Periodic re-survey of a borough or district
  • Studies of particular building types e.g. post-war housing
  • Spot listing of individual buildings under threat

There is no requirement to consult the owners before a building is listed, but unless an inspector is aware of a specific threat they will contact the owner or leave a visiting card. There is also no right of appeal against a listing, and no right to compensation for loss of redevelopment opportunities.

How can I get a building listed or de-listed ?
The DCMS will consider a request to review a listing providing the request is accompanied by new evidence relating specifically to the architectural or historic interest of the building. Evidence about a building's condition and cost of repairing or maintaining it, or redevelopment plans, cannot be considered by the DCMS. If you want a building to be listed or a listing to be reconsidered, you must write to:

Department of Culture Media and Sport Listing Archaeology and World Heritage Branch email: [email protected]

You do not need to be the owner of a building. The DCMS does not normally consider a request for de-listing when:

  • There is a current application for Listed Building Consent relating to the building.
  • There is an appeal against refusal of consent.
  • If any legal action is being taken the Local Authority
  • Any request for a listing review should be accompanied by:
  •  A justification for adding (or deleting) a building
  • Location plan. 
  • Clear up-to-date photographs
  • Any other historical information on the building.

What Information does listing include ?
The statutory list includes a description of each building, which may refer to some but not all important features. Every part a building is listed, including the interior and any later alterations or additions. Even if a feature (internal or external) is not included in the description, it does not mean that it is not of interest and it is still part of the listed building.

What are the effect of listing ?
You will need the council's consent to demolish a listed building or for any alteration or extension that would affect its character as a building of architectural or historic interest. The need for listed building consent is different from planning permission but the process is very similar.

It is a criminal offence to carry out works to a listed building without prior listed building consent, even if you did not know that the building was listed.

Carrying out unauthorised work is punishable by a fine or a prison sentence, and the council can require you to put the building back the way it was.

Can I do work on a listed building ?
Regular maintenance and 'like for like' repairs do not need listed building consent but it would be required if the repairs include removal of historic material or changes to the character. For example, internal alterations that include removal of historic doors, fireplaces or plasterwork, or replacement of external doors or windows, would require consent. However repainting or redecoration, installing a new bathroom or kitchen fittings would not normally need consent.

Internal painting and decorating does not need consent but any external painting may require consent as it may affect the character of the listed building. Replacement of modern kitchen and bathroom fittings does not require consent.

Refurbishment involving the removal of internal features, such as doors, fireplaces, plasterwork, panelling or other historic fittings constitutes alterations and consent is required before work is carried out.

Advice on maintenance and repairs is available from the council, and is recommended, as the effect is not always straightforward. You can contact us if you are unsure whether you need consent, or for more advice on what type of work would require consent.

Can I do emergency work to a listed building ?
Emergency work can be carried out to a listed building without prior consent providing you can subsequently prove all of the following:

  • That the works were urgently necessary in the interest of safety or health or for the preservation of the building.
  • It was not practical to secure public safety or health, or preserve the building, by works of repair or temporary support or shelter.
  • That the work was limited to the minimum measures immediately necessary.
  • That notice in writing justifying in detail the work was given to the council as soon as reasonably practicable.

How do I apply for listed building consent ?
You will need to fill in a listed building consent application form. The listed building consent process is very similar to the planning process and for most cases it will take about eight weeks to process an application.

Advice to owners or developers and their professional agents is an important part of the listed building consent application process and the council's conservation officer is available to discuss your proposal before you submit your application. Advice can be given on appropriate alterations and extensions to historic buildings. Except for the most simple applications it is advisable to employ an agent who is familiar with the policies and procedures of the council.

If you are in any doubt, you should check with the conservation officer as to whether planning permission or listed building consent is needed before starting any work to a listed building.

What policies apply to listed buildings ?
Generally the council seeks to preserve listed buildings, their settings and any features of architectural or historic interest. We would not normally approve an application to demolish a listed building, allow alterations that would involve the loss of historic parts of the building, obscure the original plan form, layout or structural integrity, or otherwise diminish the historic value of a listed building. The council also aims to keep listed buildings in their original use, or if this use no longer exists, in another use that causes least harm to the building. Many buildings can sustain some sensitive alterations or extensions to accommodate continuing or new uses. Listed buildings do however vary greatly in the extent to which they can be changed without harm to their special architectural or historic interest. Additional detailed guidance is included in the Government's Planning Policy Guidance Note 15 - planning and the historic environment.

What can the council do about neglected listed buildings ?
Not all listed buildings are cared for by their owners. In certain cases of deliberate neglect or long term vacancy, a listed building is put on the register of buildings at risk. The register is drawn up by English Heritage for Grades I and II*. Some councils publish lists that include buildings of all grades, but at present there are not considered to be any in Luton. These lists bring together information on all listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments known to be at risk from neglect, decay or redundancy.

A council monitors buildings at risk and seeks long term solutions for neglected, redundant or derelict listed buildings. Some of the buildings are the subject of refurbishment proposals and will be removed from the register when works are complete.

The council has legal powers to serve an urgent works notice or repairs notice on a listed building owner, requiring repair works to be carried out to prevent further decay. The notice will specify the works that are considered reasonably necessary for the preservation of the building. An urgent works notice is restricted to emergency repairs only, for example works to keep a building wind and weather-proof and secure against vandalism. A repairs notice is not restricted to urgent works and may include works to preserve architectural details but cannot be used to restore lost features.

In extreme cases where building owner has not taken reasonable steps to preserve a listed building, the council can do the work at the owner's cost, or compulsorily purchase a building at risk.

How do I report a building at risk ?
If you are aware of an historic building which is either derelict or not being properly preserved you can contact the council. The council will then inspect the building and advise you what action it intends to take.

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