Listed Buildings

Listed building consent is required for any works, internal or external, that in the judgment of the Council would affect a listed building’s character as ‘a building of special architectural or historic interest’. Primary legislation states that in considering whether to grant listed building consent for any works the Council (or in some cases the Secretary of State), ‘shall have special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses’.

The character of Cheltenham’s listed buildings may be adversely affected by physical alteration and changes to their setting. The original plan form, internal features and evidence of proportion are important and should not be compromised by unsympathetic alterations. Interior and exterior work must relate sensitively to the original building and will require an appropriate level of craftsmanship and professional skill. In almost all cases the materials used for alterations should match the original, be traditional or be superior in quality and execution.


Listed buildings are graded to show their relative national importance. There are three grades I, II* and II. The whole of the building or structure is listed, interior and exterior, front, back and other structures attached or within the historic curtilage will also be included in the designation. There is a statutory requirement, set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas ) Act 1990, to protect listed buildings from inappropriate development that would harm their architectural or historic significance. Permitted development rights do not apply to listed buildings. While this approach provides an exceptional degree of protection for heritage buildings, it leaves owners of listed buildings with no straightforward guidance about the likely acceptability of different measures to improve the energy performance of their homes. This website seeks to redress that omission.

Listed Building consent

Listed building consent is required for any works of demolition, alteration or extension that would in any way affect the character of the building as a building of special architectural or historic interest. In practice this can mean that minor alterations such as changing a door may need consent. Applicants must base proposals for listed building consent on a proper understanding of the significance of the listed building (heritage asset).

If you live in a listed building, you will need to get listed building consent for some (but not all) energy efficiency improvements. We’ve indicated where consent  is likely to be needed, but you should generally double check with the Council whether consent it required before beginning work, especially as unauthorised works to listed buildings are a criminal offence. Cheltenham Borough Council Planning department can be contacted on 01242 264328 or via email at

We have also indicated likely acceptability of different measures, however the Council’s conservation officers will assess every proposal on its own merits and every building is unique, so you may find that a change that is acceptable in one building is not approved for another.

Detailed guidance about assessing the impact of alterations on the special architectural and historic interest of listed buildings is included in Historic England Good Practice Advice notes 1, 2, 3 and Advice Note 2 (They supersede the PPS 5 Practice Guide which has now been withdrawn by Government). (see Resources)

New works to listed buildings which are approved may be eligible for zero rate VAT. For further information, contact the HM Customs and Excise VAT advice line on 0845 010 9000.

Applying for Listed Building Consent

For all applications for listed building consent it is vital to understand the special interest of the building. The term ‘significance’ is used as a catch all phrase to sum up the architectural, historic, artistic, archaeological or evidential interest of a listed building.

Applications for listed building consent will stand a better chance of success when there is proper understanding of the significance of the building and the extent of the fabric to which significance relates. Applicants are required to undertake an assessment of significance to the extent necessary to understand the potential impact of the proposals. Planners, homeowners and developers may therefore find it necessary to seek advice from professionally qualified and experienced individuals and organisations.

The Centre for Sustainable Energy has produced ‘Love Your Old Home’, an accessible workbook guiding you through a 4-step process to planning energy efficiency improvements in traditional homes (see Resources):

It contains a questionnaire about your home which will help you find out what makes it a ‘significant’ building, and which will help guide you to plan improvements which will preserve this significance whilst improving its energy efficiency.

The Council will advise if a design and access statement is needed. Where one is required the assessment of significance and an impact assessment can be set out within it. Where such a statement is not required, and for more complex proposals, the Council may require that justification is presented in a ‘heritage statement’. This statement would need to be informed and supported by physical and documentary evidence about the historic development of the building or any part of it. Evidence can be collected from a range of sources such as local and national records; historical maps, photographs and reports; and planning records. It may also be necessary to undertake on-site investigation for which the Council can provide advice on professional standards and practice.

For some types of work additional requirements may include a heritage impact assessment, photographic surveys, and schedules of work and investigation and recording (if any loss of significant fabric is proposed). Structural surveys may also be required, for example for solar panels on historic roofs, or for altering floors.

For some types of listed building consent applications, the Council has a statutory obligation to undertake consultation with the national amenity societies, such as Historic England.


Like planning permission, a decision on an application for listed building consent can be made either by councillors at planning committee or by planning officers under ‘delegated’ powers. The Council can determine the application in one of three ways:

  • by granting permission;
  • by refusing permission; or
  • by granting permission subject to conditions.

If permission is granted then it is likely that this will be subject to conditions. The most common condition will be a time limit within which the development must begin, usually three years from when permission is granted. Another common condition is to require the work to be undertaken in strict accordance with approved drawings of specific details.