In England and Wales over 450,000 period properties are listed on a Statutory Schedule as being of Architectural or Historic Interest. Of these about 6,000 are Grade I listed, however, very few of these landmark buildings are in private ownership and rarely, if ever, come onto the open market.
The majority are listed as Grade II with the most important of these being Grade II* – called Grade Two Starred. This category significantly restricts the owner’s rights to convert, or even redecorate, the property without specific permission. On the plus side, sometimes a grant will be available towards the upkeep but this may well be conditional on your agreeing to open the property to the public for a minimum number of days each year.
If you are interested in owning a listed property, or have the opportunity of buying one, there is an excellent source of information – the Listed Buildings Information Service maintains a comprehensive database and if you telephone 020-7208 8221 they can supply the full details of any property – from its complete history to details of which particular features are responsible for the listing. Furthermore, the service is free of charge. Alternatively, you can fax an enquiry to 020-7224 5333 but this may take some time to receive a reply.
Bear in mind that obtaining planning permission
within the environs of a listed property can be somewhat complicated. Grade II
applications can be determined at Local Council level but anything relating to
Grade II* must be referred on to the Department of the Environment and English
Heritage and accordingly can take many months to negotiate.