Listed buildings are legally protected and consent is normally required (usually from the local planning authority) for any alterations that are carried out to the building that would affect its character.
Historic buildings are an important part of the landscape of Lincolnshire, whether in villages, in town centres or in the countryside. Many villages have fine medieval churches, there are attractive mud and stud cottages in the Lincolnshire wolds, there are many Georgian and Victorian houses in the market towns and there are good examples of nineteenth-century farm-buildings.
Many of these historic buildings have been legally protected by being 'listed', which indicates that they are nationally important. It is the Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport who has a statutory duty to produce and maintain Lists of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest and the buildings that appear on these lists are 'Listed Buildings'.
The seven districts covered by the Lincolnshire County Council (Boston, East Lindsey, Lincoln, North Kesteven, South Holland, South Kesteven and West Lindsey) have a total of 7200 listed buildings, comprising nearly 9000 separate structures. Listed buildings in Lincolnshire range in date from the Roman period through to the 1950s, including churches, commercial properties, statues, parish boundary stones, telephone boxes and military installations. This range includes buildings that you would expect to be listed, such as Lincoln Cathedral or Tattershall Castle in East Lindsey, as well as some more unusual buildings. People are often surprised to learn that the garage showroom building with the remarkable roof on Brayford Wharf North in Lincoln, until recently used as a library, is a listed building (even though it was built in 1956).
Generally buildings are listed because they are of architectural interest, although, in addition, buildings which show a particular technological innovation or are associated with an historic event or person can also be listed.
In brief, the following are normally listed:
- All buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition.
- Most buildings of about 1700 to 1840, although some selection is necessary.
- Between 1840 and 1914 greater selection is necessary. Only buildings of definite quality and character are listed.
- To identify the best examples of particular building types, between 1914 and 1939, selected buildings of high quality only are listed.
- Buildings less than thirty years old are normally only listed if they are of outstanding quality and under threat. Buildings less than ten years old are not listed.
Listed buildings are legally protected and consent is normally required (usually from the local planning authority) for any alterations that are carried out to the building that would affect its character. This includes work on both the outside and the inside of the building since the whole of a listed building is protected, not just the frontage. The protection provided by listing also extends beyond the principal building to features such as boundary walls, railings and any buildings that stand within the curtilage of the listed building. While the grading is taken as an indicator of the relative importance of the building it has nothing to do with the legal requirements that apply to it. Listed buildings are allocated one of three grades; Grade I, II* or II.
Listing is not intended to fossilise a building. A building's long-term interests are often best served by putting it to good use, and if this cannot be the one it was designed for, a new use may have to be found. Listing ensures that the architectural and historic interest of the building is carefully considered before any alterations, either outside or inside, are agreed.
Owners have the most important role in looking after historic buildings, and many take great pride in the care of their property and preserving its character and atmosphere. In Lincolnshire, the Conservation Officer at your local district council can provide a first level of advice if changes are needed.
Listed building consent
You will need to get listed building consent from your local district council if you want to demolish a listed building or any part of it, or alter it in any way which would affect its character, inside or out. Repairs which match exactly may not need consent, but your local district council will advise you on this as the effect of any repairs is not always straightforward.
Examples of work which may need consent include changing windows and doors, painting over brickwork or removing external surfaces, putting in dormer windows or roof lights, putting up aerials, satellite dishes and burglar alarms, changing roofing materials, moving or removing internal walls, making new doorways, and removing or altering fireplaces, panelling or staircases.
How do I apply for listed building consent?
Your first step should be to contact the Conservation Officer at your local district council before you make the application. The Conservation Officer will tell you whether your proposals are likely to be accepted. This could save you time and money. It is often best to employ an architect who is used to working with listed buildings.
The district councils in Lincolnshire deal with all listed building consent cases and will give you the appropriate form for making your application. The majority of cases are dealt with by your district council, but the most important cases are referred to English Heritage. Your application will need to include enough information to show clearly what you intend to do, with detailed drawings and photographs.
How long will it take?
It will usually take at least eight weeks after you send in your application form for a decision to be sent to you. If consent is refused you have six months in which you can appeal.
What happens if I make alterations without consent?
Carrying out unauthorised work to a listed building is a criminal offence punishable by a fine or a prison sentence and the district council can require you to put the building back as it was.
There may be grants available from English Heritage for the repair of Grade I or Grade II* listed buildings. Repairs grants for Grade II listed buildings may be available from your local district council. You should contact your local district council for further information.
If you want to find out about listed buildings in your area you can contact the planning department at your local council, who will keep copies of the lists.
Please note that the fact that a building is listed does not necessarily mean that there is any public right of access to the building unless it is separately advertised by the owner as being open to the public.
Information on archaeological sites or ancient monuments in Lincolnshire is available from the Historic Environment Record. The HER is available to the public by appointment from Monday to Friday during office hours at our offices at Witham Park House in Lincoln. To arrange an appointment to visit the HER please contact the HER staff by letter, telephone, fax or e-mail using the contact addresses given under the Contacts tab above. Directions to our offices can be provided on request when you make an appointment.