Historic environment FAQs

Listed buildings

Does listed status apply to the whole building?

Yes - when a building is listed it refers to the whole building (interior and exterior) and any object/ structure which is within its curtilage.

Buildings are listed on the ‘List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest’, under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. In the act, any object or structure fixed to the building is part of the listing. Also, 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 1 July 1948, is also treated as part of the listed building.

How do I find out if a building is listed?

In the first instance, you should search the National Heritage List on the Historic England website.

A map search is also available.

If you're unsure whether a building is listed, or what may be included within the listing, please contact the Historic Environment Team. In instances of uncertainty, it's generally easier that we advise direct to avoid the danger of someone thinking the building is not listed, and going ahead with unauthorised works.

What are the different grades of listing?

Listed buildings are placed in one of three categories, which gives an indication of their importance:

  • Grade I – buildings of exceptional interest (around 2% of listed buildings)
  • Grade II* – buildings of particular importance and of more than special interest (around 4% of listed buildings)
  • Grade II – buildings of special interest, which represent an important part or our built heritage (around 95% of listed buildings)

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 information does listing include?

The National Heritage List entry includes the list entry number, date the building was listed and information about its location. The list entry also includes a description of each building, which may refer to some, but not all, important features of an historic building. Every part of a building is listed, including the interior and any later alterations or additions.

Even if a feature (internal or external) isn't included in the description, it doesn't mean that it's not of interest, and it's still part of the listed building.

What are the effects of listing?

You'll need our consent to demolish a listed building, or for any alteration or extension which would affect its character, fabric or appearance 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.

How do I apply for consent?

You'll need to complete a listed building consent application. Applications can be submitted online or by paper copy via the national Planning Portal website. The listed building consent process is very similar to the planning process, and for most cases it will take eight weeks to process an application.

Advice to owners or developers and their professional agents is an important part of the listed building application process, and our conservation officers are available to discuss your proposal before you submit your application. Pre application engagement is an important part of the process to ensure that when an application is submitted it includes appropriate information to allow a timely decision. Please submit enquiries via the form on our website.  Advice can be given on appropriate alterations and extensions to historic buildings. It is advisable to employ an agent who is familiar with our policies and procedures and has experience in working with listed or historic buildings.

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

What works can I carry out to a listed building without consent?

Regular maintenance and 'like for like' repairs 

These don't need listed building consent, but it would be required if the repairs include removal of historic material or changes to its 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 and installing new bathroom or kitchen fittings wouldn't normally need consent.

Internal painting and decorating 

This doesn't need listed building 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 doesn't require consent. Refurbishment involving the removal of internal features such as doors, fireplaces, plasterwork, panelling or other historic fittings constitutes alterations, and listed building consent is required before work can be carried out.

Advice on maintenance and repairs

Please do contact us if you're unsure whether you need permission, or for more advice on what type of work requires listed building consent, as the effect is not always straightforward.

What are the criteria for listing?

The following are the main criteria, which Historic England uses in deciding which buildings to include on the National List:

Age and rarity 

All buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition are listed, and most built between 1700 and 1840.

Architectural interest 

Buildings of importance because of their design, decoration and craftsmanship; also important examples of particular building types and techniques, and buildings of significant plan forms.

Historic interest 

Illustrations of important aspects of the nation’s social, economic, cultural or military history.

Historical 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, eg squares, terraces or model villages less than 30 years old are normally listed only if they're of outstanding quality and under threat. Buildings are not listed until they are at least ten years old.

How is a building listed?

A building can be added to the list in one of three ways:

  • periodic re-survey of a borough or district
  • studies of particular building types eg post-war
  • spot listing of individual building under threat

There's 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's 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 delisted?

Historic England will consider a request to review a listing provided 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, can't be considered.

You don't need to be the owner of the building. Historic England doesn't normally consider a request for de-listing when:

  • there's a current application for listed building consent relating to the building
  • there's an appeal against refusal of consent
  • if any legal action is being taken by the local authority.

Historic England receive a high number of applications for designation, and therefore resources are directed to those applications most in need of attention. Applications for designation will only be taken forward where the building or site:

  • is demonstrably under threat of demolition or major alteration
  • is a Designation Department priority under Historic England’s programme of strategic work
  • possesses evident significance, and is obviously worthy of inclusion on the National Heritage List

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

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 wasn't practical to secure 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 to be undertaken, was given to us as soon as was reasonably practicable

What policies apply to listed buildings?

We seek to preserve listed buildings, their settings and any features of architectural or historic interest. We wouldn't normally approve an application to demolish a listed building, allow alterations that would involve the loss of historic parts of the building or obscure the original plan form, layout or structural integrity, or otherwise diminish the historic value of listed buildings.

We also aim 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, but listed buildings 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 and the Historic Environment.

Conservation areas

How do I find out if a property is in a conservation area?

Take a look at our interactive map, which shows the boundaries of all conservation areas in Shropshire.

Individual conservation areas are listed on the following pages:

How are conservation areas chosen for designation? 

Conservation areas vary, ranging from historic town centres to industrial areas and rural villages. They're designated usually because of their buildings, but they can also be designated because of their history, architecture, layout or private spaces, such as gardens, parks and greens, trees or street furniture.

Conservation areas give broader protection than listing individual buildings, and all features within an area, listed or otherwise, are recognised as part of its character.

What does designation mean? 

Within a conservation area we have extra controls over the following:

  • we're under a duty 'from time to time' to publish and consult on proposals to preserve and enhance a conservation area
  • it's an offence to demolish a building or structure in a conservation area without our consent. There are some exceptions - please ask before taking action
  • Historic England has the power to make grants or loans for preservation or enhancement, although none are currently available
  • permitted development and the right to display advertisements are more limited than elsewhere
  • telecommunications operators have more onerous obligations placed on them
  • we promote the retention of traditional shopfronts. Where replacements are necessary or desirable great care must be taken in their design to ensure compatibility with the building and the street scene
  • we encourage the fullest possible use of accommodation above shops
  • adverts and signs in conservation areas must be designed and produced to a high standard, and be made of materials that don't detract from the character or appearance of the area
  • we promote the retention of traditional street furniture and surfaces, and will seek the suitable replacement of non-conforming street furniture and surfaces

What's a conservation area appraisal, and how can I access one?

A conservation area appraisal sets out what defines the special character of a conservation area, such as its architecture, history, layout, open spaces and landscape. Appraisals are available on request by contacting the Historic Environment Team.

How does living in a conservation area affect me? 

If you live in a conservation area, additional planning controls apply. Therefore, planning permission may be required for certain types of development and demolition. Restrictions also apply to any proposed works to trees in a conservation area.

Article 4 directions apply to properties in some conservation areas, which mean further planning controls being placed on certain works.

Not all satellite antennae in a conservation area need planning permission. However, we try to ensure that satellite antennae in conservation areas are carefully sited so as not to detract from the appearance of the area.

How do I find out if planning permission is required? 

Conservation area designation does mean planning permission may be required for certain works. Further details can be found on the Planning Portal website.

How do I apply for planning permission? 

If planning permission is required, applications can be submitted online or as paper forms via the Planning Portal website.

What considerations will apply in determining an application for planning permission in a conservation area? 

In dealing with planning applications in conservation areas, we're required to 'pay special attention' to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of the area. This means that there's a higher standard of design required in conservation areas than elsewhere.

Planning applications in conservation areas must be advertised as prescribed by regulations.

Are there any restrictions on trees in a conservation area?

It's an offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or destroy a tree in a conservation area without having given us six weeks' notice. Please ask before taking action.

Article 4 direction

What does an Article 4 direction mean?

In making an Article 4 direction, certain permitted development rights are withdrawn for a prescribed range of works. These are works that materially affect some aspects of the external appearance of houses, such as windows, doors, roofs, and frontages. Householders in areas affected by an Article 4 direction need to apply to us for permission to undertake such work.

Which conservation areas are covered by an Article 4 direction?

Article 4 directions cover certain properties in the following conservation areas:

North Shropshire

  • Prees
  • Llanymynech

Central Shropshire (Shrewsbury)

  • Belle Vue
  • Cherry Orchard
  • Mountfields
  • New Street
  • The Mount
  • St Julians Friars
  • Castlefields

South Shropshire

  • Bridgnorth
  • Highley (Clee View)

How do I find out if my property is covered by an Article 4 direction?

Take a look at our interactive map, which shows the boundaries of all Article 4 direction areas in Shropshire.

I live in a property in a Conservation Area that is also subject to an Article 4 direction. Can I replace my windows?

In some Conservation Areas in Shropshire the front and publicly visible sides of some buildings are also subject to an additional planning control that is known technically as an Article 4(2) Direction.  These have been designated by the Council to ensure that the character and appearance of the Conservation Area is not eroded by gradual, unplanned and unsympathetic changes to buildings.  This includes through the replacement of traditional windows with unsympathetic modern units, or the replacement of poor quality modern units that have been in place for some time.  

Planning permission therefore needs to be granted before you can replace the windows or doors on a property which is subject to an Article 4(2) Direction.  In assessing planning applications for replacement windows and/or doors on these properties.  

In terms of replacement units, it is requested that these are in timber and of a design that either matches the historic units being replaced or is otherwise appropriate to the Conservation Area.  Double glazed timber units or thermally improved single glazing will generally be acceptable, providing the design and joinery details are appropriate. However, uPVC units, including those in a sash design, are unlikely to be supported.  This is because independent Planning Inspectors have upheld that the material, details and finish cannot fully replicate the appearance of painted historic timber windows, and their chunkier proportions and synthetic appearance adversely impacts the cohesion and uniformity of the traditional units.

They are not therefore considered to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the Conservation Area, or meet the intentions of the applied Article 4(2) Direction.  

In planning terms, the thermal efficiency of single glazed timber windows, or related issues with condensation, are not in themselves a justification for their replacement. Where this is deemed to be a problem we would suggest other measures, such as ventilation systems and secondary glazing, are used.

There is a wide range of web-based guidance from Historic England and other bodies on this subject. In addition we would suggest that consideration is given over to the cause of condensation so that this is understood, with a view to addressing this in the first instance prior to following the route of replacing windows and doors 

When considering applications for the replacement of existing modern window units on buildings subject to an Article 4 Direction, the replacement units need to be of a design that is appropriate for the Conservation Area and the subject dwelling.  Where replacement of existing modern units that are of poor design quality is proposed, an acceptable design that provides an enhancement will be sought on the publicly visible elevations.  The preference will generally be for replacement timber units in the first instance but in a very limited set of circumstances high quality uPVC units may be acceptable.

In all instances, it is recommended that you seek pre-application advice from the Conservation Officer before submitting a planning application and further information on how to do so is available here.

Non-designated heritage assets

Is my unlisted historic building a non-designated heritage asset?

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) defines heritage assets as “A building, monument, site, place, area or landscape identified as having a degree of significance meriting consideration in planning decisions, because of its heritage interest. It includes designated heritage assets and assets identified by the local planning authority (including local listing)”.

The National Planning Practice Guide (NPPG), provides further guidance to the Framework, and defines non-designated heritage assets (NDHA) as “buildings, monuments, sites, places, areas or landscapes identified by plan-making bodies as having a degree of heritage significance meriting consideration in planning decisions but which do not meet the criteria for designated heritage assets.”.  

To be identified as a NDHA an unlisted building needs to have heritage significance that is derived from its architectural, historic and/ or archaeological interest.  In this context, the greater the age of a building, particularly if it pre-dates 1900, the more likely it is to be identified as a NDHA.  Likewise, if it is a good example of a particular architectural style, was designed by a noteworthy architect, or is a domestic or functional building of traditional construction that makes a positive contribution to landscape character, it may be considered to have architectural interest.  To have historic interest the building could have associations with historical figures or events, for example a noteworthy author or military building from either of the World Wars.  Buildings gain archaeological interest as a consequence of their age, the evidence they exhibit for a sequence of historic development and changes in construction techniques, and/ or in relation to their original intended uses (e.g. as historic industrial buildings).  The degree to which the historic building has been altered unsympathetically in the recent past, for example through unsympathetic changes to the original pattern and form of window and door openings and/ or the addition of modern extensions, will also be a consideration.

Shropshire Council does not maintain, or have plans to introduce, a Local List of historic buildings.  This is because of the size of the area we cover, the high degree of survival of historic buildings within it, and the resulting scale of the resources that would be needed to establish a comprehensive and consistent Local List.  However, the NPPG makes provision for local planning authorities to identify NDHAs during the planning process, for example during pre-application discussions and/ or the determination of planning applications.  When identifying NDHAs officers will therefore exercise their professional judgement in relation to the above considerations.  When doing so, they will set out their reasons for doing so in their advice to planning applicants or their agents, or in their consultee advice to the planning officer.