Is your building listed or locally listed, and what’s the difference?

27 May 2016

Dan Humphrey, senior solicitor, takes a look at the differences between listed and locally listed buildings.

North East Lincolnshire Council recently embarked upon an almost borough-wide local listing process of properties in the area, which has caused some confusion and concern among our clients. It’s a process carried out by other councils too, and we’ve had an influx of queries about the issue, with questions arising such as:

  • What’s the difference between a Locally Listed Building and a Listed Building?
  • Should I be worried if a building I wish to purchase/I already own is Locally Listed?
  • What are the implications of a building being Locally Listed; what does it mean for me/my business?

To clarify, a Locally Listed Building is a building, structure or feature which, while not listed by the Secretary of State, is deemed by the Council to be an important part of the county’s heritage, due to its architectural, historic or archaeological significance.

Whereas Listing Building status derives from statute (section 1 of the Planning (Listed Buildings) Act 1990), if you take one thing from this article, it should be this: the separate term Locally Listed Buildings does not have legal status. It is a level below Listed Buildings, and thus not covered by the Act or its protections / sanctions.

Why do Councils operate Local Lists? There are two primary reasons; one, to support bids for heritage funding and two, as a useful 'halfway house' category to review and categorise buildings which are not your 'normal' houses/buildings, but fall short of the criteria of Listed Buildings. In theory, some Locally Listed buildings could become eligible over time (and via application) for Listed Building status, but the number of buildings which are listed remains reassuringly consistent.

What impact does this process have? A limited one arguably. It may create concerns for property owners; it can be worrying to find out your property is being reviewed, and an important issue is the potential impact on a sale or purchase of a property. If you buy a property that isn't Listed and it then becomes Locally Listed, are you obliged to inform the purchaser when you then sell? Basically, yes; maybe give them the letter from the Council regarding Local Listing. But you are heavily reliant on having a conveyancer acting for you, or for the purchaser, who understands and can clearly explain the difference between Listed and Locally Listed. Otherwise, buyers may be (wrongly) deterred by the prospect of buying a Listed Building and the extra obligations that entail, even when that isn't what is being sold.

Local authorities undergoing through this process should do so as transparently as possible, and with clear explanation. The correspondence I've seen for the local council does explain the process, to an extent, but doesn't clarify and reassure as to the non-enforceability of Locally Listed status. It doesn't fully explain the Council decision-making process; leaving a confusing situation; can you formally object or comment? Instead, it invites you to contact to raise any queries, but perhaps a clear statement of the purpose of having a Local List would improve this. It could be included in correspondence and placed online.

Overall, if your property is about to be Locally Listed, should you be worried? Probably not, at least not in the short-term, as the term has no legal status. Should you object or comment? If you want to, yes. However, if you do object, you are getting yourself into a rather odd position; as effectively you are arguing that your property is of less merit (and perhaps less value?) than the Council's experts think....

Image shows: Our own, St Mary's Chambers and attached railings and gates, Grimsby, is a Grade II listed building.

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