A listed building is one that is recognised and listed as being of special historical or architectural interest. Listed status means the building cannot be knocked down or altered in any way unless the owner has previously received local government consent to do so.
Listed status across England and Wales falls into three categories. These cover Grade I, Grade II*, and Grade II listed buildings. Grade I is the rarest, with only around 2.5% of all listed buildings making this grade. Most listed buildings fall into the Grade II listed area, while only a few (around 5.5% of the total) are recognised as Grade II*. (A similar system operates in Scotland, although here the buildings are listed in Category A, Category B, and Category C.)
The term ‘listed building’ is somewhat misleading in some cases. Most people assume it is only buildings that can be listed. However, the official definition of a building states that a ‘structure or erection’ can qualify. For example, a bridge dating from the 1600s could well be listed.
If you are thinking of buying a listed building that falls into any of the above grades, you should consider whether it would make things more complex as an owner. Very often, it does, as there are things you would not be able to do without seeking prior permission. Even then, you may find certain things would be approved only if you did them in a certain way. Listed building consent would need to be sought before doing anything inside or outside the property.