Listed buildings are buildings which are considered to have special architectural or historic interest. There are over 2000 listed buildings within the Harrogate borough. They are afforded protection in law through the need to gain consent for works of alteration, extension and demolition.

Who designates listed buildings?

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

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.

Listed buildings can be identified online via The National Heritage List for England. The list entry will provide a brief description of the building.

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 the Harrogate district, there are 49 grade I buildings. Examples include Fountains Hall, Ripon Minster, various churches, Weston Hall and Ripon Obelisk.

Grade II* are particularly important buildings of more than special interest (only about 4% of listed buildings)

In the Harrogate district, there are 115 grade II* buildings. Examples include the Royal Pump Room Museum, Plompton Hall, Knaresborough Viaduct (left), the Royal Hall and Harrogate Cenotaph.

Grade II are buildings of special interest, which warrant every effort being made to preserve them (94% of listed buildings). In the Harrogate district, there are 2118 grade II buildings. Examples include a variety of buildings such as churches, an Odeon cinema, Methodist churches, houses, public houses, walls, bridges, mill buildings and farm buildings.

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

What is covered by the listing?

Listing covers a whole building, including the interior, unless parts of it are specifically excluded in the list description. However, it can also cover:

  • other attached structures and fixtures
  • later extensions or additions (those extensions or additions that were ancillary to the listed building at the time of listing and those that have been added post-listing)
  • pre-1948 buildings / structures, including walls, located on land surrounding the building (described as ‘curtilage listed’ buildings)

It should be noted that the building description found within the listed building entry is intended primarily for identification purposes and is not a definitive list of important features or the extent of protection in terms of attached and curtilage listed structures (except for those descriptions creating from 2013 onwards). The date of listing, which can be crucial to determination of the extent of protection, can be found in the list entry, accessible via The National Heritage List for England.

Further guidance on curtilage listed buildings can be found within Historic England's listed buildings and curtilage advice note.

When is listed building consent needed?

Listed building consent is required for any works which affect the special architectural or historic interest of the building (including attached and curtilage listed structures). Generally, speaking, this will be alterations, demolitions and extensions. This can include relatively minor works such as installation of flues or vents in the walls or roofs as well as replacing windows and doors if it results in loss of historic frames and glass. It also includes interior alterations. Minor repairs to listed buildings do not require consent if they are carried out to a high standard of workmanship using materials and techniques that match the original. Repairs that don't take this approach usually require consent.

Listing does not prevent changes being made, but it does mean that consent is required before any works are carried out.

Listed building consent is a process similar to gaining planning permission, with an application and supporting information requiring to be submitted to the council for consideration. As for planning application, the process is subject to public consultation. However, no fee is required (unless an associated planning application is required). Applications can be submitted directly to the council, or via the planning portal website.

An understanding and appreciation of the historic building is essential to ensure successful maintenance and alteration. Before carrying out any works to a historic building find out as much as you can about its history, development and details. An understanding of its traditional construction is essential. Listed building consent applications must be supported by a Heritage Statement, which must set out how the proposals have been designed in a manner which takes into account the special interest of the building and its historic fabric.

One way of finding out more about a building or site is to use The North Yorkshire Historic Environment Record (HER) which provides detailed information and maps on historic buildings across the district.

As advised above, advice on proposals of alteration or extension can be provided prior to submitting your application and indeed are encouraged: Pre-application advice

Other implications of listing

There are a number of permitted development rights that are removed for development within the curtilage of a listed building. This removal results in the need to gain planning permission when it would not normally be required. Examples of this are the installation of an oil tank, erection of a building, erection of means of enclosure (e.g. a fence) and alterations to existing gates and walls.

Proposals for development within the curtilage of, or in the surroundings of a listed building will be assessed for the impact upon the 'setting' of the listed building. Setting is defined in National Planning Policy as:

'The surroundings in which a heritage asset is experienced. Its extent is not fixed and may change as the asset and its surroundings evolve. Elements of a setting may make a positive or negative contribution to the significance of an asset, may affect the ability to appreciate that significance or may be neutral.'

The need for planning permission can be checked by reference to the planning portal website or by submission of an enquiry to the council. Further information can be found on our planning pages.

Unauthorised works

You must obtain listed building consent before carrying out those works of alterations, demolition or extension that affect the building's special interest.

If works are carried out without first applying to listed building consent, this is known as unauthorised works. Carrying out unauthorised works is a criminal offence and individuals that carry out the works, or instruct the works to be carried out, can be prosecuted and fined (including owners and tradesmen). Such measures are in place as a means of preventing the loss of historic fabric, which once destroyed cannot be replicated with the same patina of time and sense of connection to the past.

Reports of unauthorised works will be passed to the planning enforcement team and an enforcement case will be opened and then investigated. Enforcement action may then be taken, depending on the outcome of the investigation. If it is determined that works must be carried out to rectify the situation, an enforcement notice will be served.

If you have purchased a property where unauthorised works have been carried out, you cannot be prosecuted but you would be liable for the putting right of works that are not deemed acceptable, as set out in an enforcement notice. An enforcement notice is registrable as a land charge. Therefore, it would be revealed in future searches on that land and could affect the future sale of the property.

Buying a listed building

When buying a listed building, any ideas about proposed alterations should be carefully considered. Enlisting the services of a registered architect or chartered building surveyor familiar with the conservation of historic buildings and the planning process is strongly advised for such projects. If you are buying a listed building with the intention of adding major extensions, you must ask whether this is the right house for you. Buildings are listed for their character and appearance, which will rarely survive the addition of major extensions. The setting of a building is also an important consideration. A small listed building in a big plot does not always imply room for expansion.

Pre-application guidance can be obtained on proposals for extension or alteration via the council's pre-application advisory service. Further information can be found here: pre-application advice

Heritage at Risk programme

Historic England's Heritage at Risk programme (HAR) identifies designated historic sites that are most at risk of being lost through neglect, decay or inappropriate development. There are 28 sites on the register in the Harrogate district. You can search the register via the Historic England website.


Where there may be associated archaeological implications for a proposal, the North Yorkshire County Council's historic environment team can offer pre-planning specialist archaeological information and advice to potential applicants.

Further guidance

Our heritage management guidance (an adopted supplementary planning document) provides useful guidance on extension and alteration and is taken into account when we assess proposals affecting listed buildings. This guidance is found within Chapter 8. It also provides other guidance, such as on setting. Further information can be found by visiting our heritage management guidance.

In addition, the following are useful online resources of information relating to listed/historic buildings and their repair:

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) - includes guidance on appropriate approaches to repairs.

Historic England - the government national advisor on the historic environment which includes many useful resources, such as:

Looking after historic buildings and energy efficiency

Building Conservation website - information resources for conservation, restoration and repair. Includes a variety of articles on specific subject areas such as materials, features and building types.

Amenity societies. These national organisations are specialists on historic buildings, usually targeting particular eras. They provide feedback on certain proposals to listed buildings through the planning system. They can also provide useful resources generally:

Ancient Monuments Society - concerned with historic buildings of all ages and types.

The Council for British Archaeology - concerned with all historic buildings, but with a particular interest in the archaeology of subterranean and standing structures.

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings - concerned mainly with structures dating from before 1700, but also with philosophical and technical aspects of conservation.

The Georgian Group - concerned with architecture and architecture-related arts from 1700 to 1840.

The Victorian Society - concerned with Victorian and Edwardian architecture and architecture-related arts between 1840 and 1914.

The Twentieth Century Society - concerned with architecture from 1914 onwards.