Contemporary glazing installed to listed manor house

Guide to Listed Building Classification and Regulations in Scotland

Listed buildings across England and Scotland carry much stricter planning rights, in order to preserve architecture that has a historical and cultural significance. Once a house carries listed building status, it cannot be altered in any way without permission from the local planning authority.

In Scotland, listed building consent will need to be obtained if the owner wishes to undergo alterations that would change the “character of the building”. This means that any works that would change the aesthetics of the building, such as an extension, partial demolition or internal renovation, will require consent from the local planning authority.

If the works involve replacing old materials on a ‘like-for-like’ basis, consent will likely not need to be obtained. In these instances, it is recommended that the building owner checks with the local authority before commencing any works.

How are listed buildings classified in Scotland?

In Scotland, buildings are classified as listed by Historic Environment Scotland, a public government body that follows the legislation laid out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

Under these rules, buildings in Scotland are designated as listed if they show any of the following characteristics:

  • They contribute towards Scotland’s distinctive character
  • They are a visible and accessible part of Scottish heritage
  • They demonstrate aspects of Scotland’s social and economic past
  • They have served a range of uses throughout multiple periods of history
Glass box extension to listed townhouse renovation
Modern glass infill extension to listed home

What are the different Listed Building grades?

Buildings are designated as one of three different categories, depending on their historic and cultural importance.

Category A: Buildings that are outstanding examples of a particular period, style or building type. Very few buildings fall into this category.

Category B: Buildings that are major examples of a particular period, style or building type. Around 50% of listed buildings in Scotland fall under this category.

Category C: Buildings that are representative examples of a period, style or building type. About 43% of Scotland’s listed buildings are in this category. Planning authorities are typically less stringent when dealing with alteration applications, with many Category C buildings already having undergone a certain degree of alteration prior to listing.

Exclusions

Listed status will always apply to both the interior and exterior of the main building. However in some cases, it may also apply to the curtilage surrounding it. This can include additional structures such as:

  • Boundary walls and gates
  • Freestanding outhouses or additional buildings attached to the main listed structure, such as lodges or stable blocks

Planning authorities are allowed to decide whether to include the curtilage in the listing. This can depend on several factors, such as whether the additional structures relate to the main building in terms of architectural or historic interest. It is advisable to check on a case-by-case basis as to what is included within the listed classification of a building.

Minimal glass rear extension to historic townhouse
Listed cottage with glass entrance extension

Architectural glazing in listed building improvements

Scottish planning legislation acknowledges that most historic buildings are able to accommodate high-quality extensions that are sympathetic to the original character of the building while allowing the space to respond to new demands and uses.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) set out broad guidelines for extensions to listed buildings:

  1. Extensions must not detract from the character of the original structure
  2. To this end, designers should aim for a modern addition that does not impact or overshadow the appearance of the original building

Integrating structural glass facades into a listed extension design works extremely well in adhering to these guidelines, as frameless glazing has a very minimal design. This ensures that the new section does not detract from the original design of the building instead of promoting a visual sightline towards the original structure and its materials.

HES even suggests that one way of adding an extension to a small listed building is to create a seamless transition by using a glazed link to bridge the gap between the original building and the new extension.

Get in touch

IQ Glass has had years of experience in navigating the technical requirements of listed building extension projects throughout the UK. For further advice tailored to your individual project, get in touch at hello@iqglassuk.com

Lucy Thompson