The National Assembly for Wales is required by law to compile lists of buildings of special architectural or historic interest. The lists are used to help planning authorities make decisions with the interests of the historic environment clearly identified. Compilation of the lists is undertaken by Cadw, in the Welsh Assembly Government.
Las Ynys Fawr, Harlech (© SNPA)
How are the lists established?
Usually buildings are listed following the survey of an area but occasionally individual properties can be listed — ‘spot listed’ — if threatened by development. Listing may also follow the service of a building preservation notice by a local planning authority.
How are buildings chosen?
Buildings are assessed against the following criteria:
- Architectural interest: buildings important to the nation for the interest of their architectural design, decoration and craftsmanship; also important examples of particular building types and techniques (for example, buildings displaying technological innovation or virtuosity) and significant plan forms.
- Historic interest: buildings which illustrate important aspects of the nation’s social, economic, cultural or military history.
- Close historical associations with people or events of importance to Wales.
- Group value: especially where the buildings comprise an important architectural or historic unity or a fine example of planning (for example, squares, terraces or model villages).
- In considering whether to list a building, the Assembly is advised by the professional Inspectorate of Historic Buildings within Cadw, which makes assessments in light of these principles.
What items are listed?
Listing relates both to the exterior and interior of a building, to any object or structure fixed to it and any structure within its curtilage which forms part of the land and has done so since before 1 July 1948.
What are the gradings used?
Listed buildings are classified in grades to show their relative importance. The grades are:
I - Buildings of exceptional, usually national, interest. Currently, fewer than two per cent of buildings listed in Wales qualify for this grade.
II* - Particularly important buildings of more than special interest.
II - Buildings of special interest, which warrant every effort being made to preserve them.
What does listing mean in practice?
As well as providing a ready reference of buildings of importance to the nation’s heritage, listing provides an added level of protection. This is in the form of a special planning procedure known as listed building consent. It is a criminal offence to carry out any works (either to the exterior or interior) which would affect the character of a building once it is listed unless listed building consent has been obtained from the appropriate planning authority. Works of routine maintenance or like-for-like repair are, normally, exempt from listed building controls. Your local authority can provide guidance in any particular case and should be consulted before any work starts. For further details about listed building consent procedures, please refer to the Cadw booklet Listed Building Consent.
A limited number of listed buildings may qualify for a grant from Cadw to aid repair work, but this is not automatic. The qualifying criteria go beyond the criteria for listing. For details of the financial assistance available please refer to the Cadw booklet Historic Buildings Grants & Conservation Area Grants.
What information is contained within the lists?
The lists include a description of each building. This is principally to aid identification. It has no statutory force. The description will explain why the building was selected for listing and mention features of importance. Absence from the list of a feature does not indicate that it is not of interest or that it can be removed or altered without consent. Each list entry includes the following information:
- The street, name or number of the building;
- Its grade;
- A reference number and the National Grid Reference;
- A brief description of the building, history and other matters of interest;
- A reference, where applicable, to other published information on the building and its importance.
What is the role of local authorities in listing?
The relevant local authority is consulted before any building is listed and invited to provide any relevant information such as extant planning permissions. When a building is listed, Cadw notifies the local planning authority which serves notice upon the owner and occupier.
Is it possible to appeal against listing?
There is no statutory right of appeal, but anyone with relevant information about a building should forward it to Cadw and request that the listing be reconsidered. An appeal should be based on information relating to the building’s architectural or historic interest and not to the effects of statutory protection upon development proposals. Such factors would be appropriate to an application for listed building consent.