Listed buildings

Camden has over 5,600 listed buildings in a variety of ages, types and architectural styles.

Search for a listed building

Listed buildings in Camden range from the 11th century St Pancras Old Church to the Alexandra Road Estate built between 1972 and 1978.

The information within this section will help you understand what listed buildings are, where they are found within the borough and what implications there are for maintaining and developing such properties.

What are listed buildings?

A listed building is a building, object or structure that is considered of national historical or architectural interest. Every part of a listed building is protected, including the interior and any later alterations or additions.

Even if a feature (internal or external) is not included on the official description of the building, it is still protected by the listing.

What are the different grades of listing?

Listed buildings are placed in one of three grades which give an indication of their relative importance:

  • grade I
  • grade II*
  • grade II.

Grade I and II* listed buildings are a small proportion (about 6% nationally) of all listed buildings. They are particularly important to the nation’s built heritage as buildings of outstanding architectural or historic interest, their significance is beyond dispute. Grade II listed buildings include the majority of listed buildings representing a major element in the historic quality of Camden.

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.

Criteria for listing

The following are the main criteria, which the DCMS uses in deciding which buildings to include on the statutory list:

  • architectural design, decoration and craftsmanship; also important examples of particular building types and techniques and significant plan forms
  • illustrations of important aspects of the nation’s social, economic, cultural or military history
  • 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 e.g. squares, terraces or model villages

The older a building is, and the fewer the surviving examples of its kind, the more likely it is to have historic importance. All buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition are listed and most buildings built between 1700 and 1840 are listed.

There is a greater selection of buildings erected after 1840 to identify the best examples of particular building types and only buildings of definite quality and character are listed. Buildings that are less than 30 years old, are normally listed only if they are of outstanding quality and under threat. Buildings are not listed until they are at least 10 years old.

How is a building listed?

A building is listed in one of three ways:

  • periodic re-survey of a borough or district
  • studies of particular building types (e.g. post-war housing, or schools)
  • spot listing of individual buildings reported by members of the public

Listed buildings get included on a register called the Statutory List of Buildings of Architectural or Historic Interest, drawn up by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). However the government's White Paper on Heritage Protection (March 2007) set out changes to the system which will see Historic England (formerly English Heritage) taking responsibility for listing, consultation and right of appeal in the future.

How can I get a building listed or de-listed?

Applications to consider a building for listed designation should be made using the online application form found on the Historic England website

There is no requirement to consult the owners before a building is listed, however where an inspector is aware of a specific threat, they will contact the owner. There is also no right of appeal against a listing and no right to compensation for loss of redevelopment opportunities.

What are the effects of listing? 

You will need our consent to demolish a listed building and for any alteration or extension which would affect its character 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.

It is a criminal offence to carry out works to a listed building without prior listed building consent - even if you did not know that the building was listed.

Who is responsible for maintaining listed buildings?

It is the owner's responsibility to maintain a listed building. In certain cases of deliberate neglect or long-term vacancy, a listed building is put on the Heritage at Risk Register, drawn up by Historic England

We monitor buildings at risk and seek long-term solutions for neglected, redundant or derelict listed buildings.

We have legal powers to serve an urgent works notice or repairs notice on the owner of a listed building, requiring repair works to be carried out to prevent further decay. The notice will specify the works which we consider reasonably necessary for the preservation of the building.

An urgent works notice is restricted to emergency repairs only, such as works to keep a building wind and weather-proof and safe from collapse, while a repairs notice is not restricted to urgent works and may include works to preserve architectural details; however it cannot be used to restore lost features.

In extreme cases where building owners have not taken reasonable steps to preserve a listed building, we can do the work at the owner’s cost or even compulsorily purchase a building at risk.

You can report a historic building which is either derelict or not being properly preserved to the duty planner

Does the council help pay to restore or repair buildings at risk?

We have no grant funds available to aid in the restoration and repair of buildings at risk. Grants may be available from Historic England, the Heritage Lottery Fund or the Heritage of London Trust.

Do I need consent to carry out work on a listed building?

It is a criminal offence to carry out works to a listed building or structure where prior listed building consent has not been obtained - even if the offender was not aware that the building was listed.

For further guidance about whether listed building consent is required for a variety of common building work projects, please visit the do I need planning permission section of our website.

Emergency work can be carried out to a listed building without prior consent providing you can later 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 was not practical to secure public safety or health 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 detailed notice in writing justifying the work was given to us as soon as reasonably practical to do so.

Regular maintenance and ‘like for like’ repairs which match the original work in every way do not need listed building consent. If materials or methods that differ from the original are used however, then consent will be needed.

What policies apply to listed buildings? 

We seek to preserve listed buildings, their settings and any features of architectural or historic interest. We would not normally approve an application to demolish a listed building, allow alterations that would involve the loss of historic parts of the building, 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 national planning policy framework and in the planning notes which were produced to accompany this.

Understanding historic buildings

Works to historic buildings should be based on a thorough understanding of the structure, materials and traditional building techniques, which all contribute to the architectural and historic significance of the building.  This will require careful research before plans for alterations are drawn up.

Useful sources of information on historic buildings

Alterations to historic buildings

Alterations should be carried out in a sensitive way,  to preserve what is special about the building, and allow it to continue being used and enjoyed.  Upgrading services, extending accommodation, and refurbishing can usually be done successfully but imaginative, non-standard approaches may need to be taken to prevent the historic building being harmed.

The following are useful sources of information and guidance when considering alterations:

Supporting information for planning applications affecting the historic environment

We require that applications for listed building consent and planning permission to demolish a building in a conservation area must be accompanied by a heritage statement, which should provide a description of the significance of the heritage assets affected, and the contribution of their setting to that significance.

It should also provide clear and convincing justification for any harm to the building or conservation area.

Information to assist in assessing significance can be found in list descriptions, conservation area statements and appraisals, and in guidance notes such as the Historic Environment Good Practice Advice in Planning Notes produced by Historic England to accompany the national planning policy framework

Validation requirements

Report unauthorised work on a listed building?

Who can I contact to find out more?

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