What Are Listed Buildings, Why Are They Important?

In the United Kingdom, there are listed buildings running the length and breadth of the country. For a building to be considered a listed structure it needs to hold some type of historical, cultural or architectural value and importance. For this reason, many of the listed buildings in the United Kingdom tend to be of a mature age and leads to the preservation of some of the most archaeologically advanced structures of the time which allow us to look back in time.

If a building is listed, then many alterations are prohibited and permission needs to be gained before performing any structural modifications or repairs. For example, a listed building will usually retain most of its original features such as windows and doors making the installation of double glazing and security doors illegal. While this may cause some anger from those who own a listed building, it is important in maintaining the structure's historical integrity and value.

If a building is listed, then the whole building is included in this, regardless of how new any parts of it may be. This even applies to structures not affixed to the building but resting on its land, making the demolition of outhouses and barns a crime. Modifying or removing any part of a listed building without consent is a criminal offence and is punishable by imprisonment, a fine, or both. There are however relaxations on certain parts of the listed building control regulations such as performing work or maintenance to preserve a structure or feature of a building, repairing any damage to the building caused by renovations and reconstruction of a building using its original parts without deviating from its original state.

While these regulations are in place to protect structures, it can also lead to the destruction of properties as the owners do not wish to deal with mountains of red tape to maintain and perform upkeep that is vital to the listed structure. Instead, they are left to slowly decay and the value they once held is lost. Many of the UK's most important buildings are listed buildings, including and not limited to the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Liverpool Road railway station, Dover Castle and Gower Street in London.

Many of these landmarks help change the face of the country or were built in a time and style of historical importance. Holding on to the past helps a country understand its fundamental roots and can help propel it into the future. A listed building can fall into several grades which are Grade One, Buildings of exceptional interest. Grade Two covers special buildings and those of above exceptional interest, with Grade Three being a variation of Grade Two but with the addition of the building warranting special protection and preservation.

The four qualifying aspects relate to the following: Age and rarity, Aesthetic merits, Selectivity, and national interest. A building containing 3 or more of the qualifying requirements will be classed s a Grade 2, whereas a building containing only one of the requirements usually falls into the Grade One category.

No matter the opinion that people hold regarding holding onto structural history, it is important to do so to retain the past for those around today to enjoy their Marvel, beauty and learning opportunities of those who not only came before us but shaped the architecture of the country we live in today.

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