Listed buildings

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1. What is a listed building

A listed building is a building or structure which is considered to be of 'special architectural or historic interest.' This includes a wide variety of structures and buildings ranging from cathedrals to walls and historic telephone boxes as well as residential properties.

How buildings are selected for listing

Historic England is responsible for listing, and it does this on the basis of a set of national criteria.

When a building is assessed for 'listing', both its historic interest and its architectural interest are considered.  Its condition is not as important a consideration and buildings may be listed although they are in poor condition.

Buildings are selected for listing on the basis of their architectural interest, historic interest, close historical association or group value.  Age and rarity are important considerations.

The criteria for listing buildings

For a building to be listed it must meet a number of criteria outlined below.

  • All buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition
  • Most buildings of 1700 to 1840, though selection is necessary
  • Between 1840 and 1914 only buildings of definite quality and character, including the principal works of the principal architects
  • After 1914 only selected outstanding buildings
  • Buildings that are less than 30 years old, if they are of outstanding quality and under threat
  • Buildings less than 10 years are not listed

In selecting buildings for listing particular attention is paid to

  • Age and rarity
  • Special architectural interest or social or economic interest (for example, industrial buildings, railway stations, schools, hospitals, theatres, town halls, markets, exchanges, almshouses, prisons, lock-ups and mills)
  • Technological innovation or virtuosity
  • Association with well-known people or events
  • Group value, especially as examples of town planning (for example, squares and terraces)

The difference between the grades

Listed buildings are graded to show their relative national importance.  The three grades are I, II* and II.

Grade I are buildings of exceptional interest (nationally only about 2% of listed buildings are in this grade). In Exeter there are 18 Grade I buildings including the Guildhall, St Nicholas' Priory, Mol's Coffee House and the Custom House.

Grade II* are particularly important buildings of more than special interest (only about 4% of listed buildings) In Exeter there are 142 Grade II* listed buildings. These include the Georgian terraces in Southernhay, Colleton Crescent, Pennsylvania Park and Wynards Almshouses.

Grade II are buildings of special interest, which warrant every effort being made to preserve them (94% of listed buildings) Exeter has over 1600 Grade II buildings.

There is no legal difference in the protection given by these grades.

What is listed

The whole building or structure is listed, including both its interior and exterior.  This is the case for all grades of listing. Boundary walls and other structures within the building or structure's historic curtilage may also be included.  There is no such thing as a listed facade or an interior only, and even modern elements of a building are included.  It should also be assumed that fixtures and fittings are listed.

If in doubt, ask the Conservation Planner for advice on individual cases. 

List descriptions

List descriptions are intended primarily for identification purposes and are not a definitive list of important features. Just because a feature is not included within the list description does not mean that it is not included within the listing.

Each listing gives the following information: address; grade of listing; grid reference; map reference number; building reference number; a list description; details on ancient monument status; and, details of any national archival records. The list descriptions are intended for identification purposes only and do not define all the features of special interest. In many cases there is no reference to the interior of the property.