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We have created a new public body, Historic Environment Scotland. While we work on shaping our future we can reassure you that all services and products will continue as normal. Please follow our progress and find out more about our new organisation.

What is listing?

St Lawrence's, Greenock
Listed buildings enrich Scotland’s landscape and chart a great part of our history.

Many buildings are of interest, architecturally or historically. But to be listed, a building must be of ‘special’ architectural or historic interest.

Historic Environment Scotland, a non-departmental public body, lists buildings of special architectural or historic interest. A dedicated team researches and assesses all listing proposals. Listing is carried out under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

Listed buildings have characteristics that:

  • help to create Scotland’s distinctive character
  • are a highly visible and accessible part of our rich heritage
  • express Scotland’s social and economic past
  • span a wide range of uses and periods
  • contribute significantly to our sense of place

To merit listing the structure must meet set criteria (see the What do we list? page).

Scotland had around 47,000 listed building records but the number changes almost daily. (A record may include more than one building, e.g. a terrace.)

Listed buildings cover diverse aspects of life, including:

  • education
  • recreation
  • defence
  • industry
  • housing
  • worship

You’ll need listed building consent to make changes to a listed building that your planning authority deems will affect its character. You should apply to your planning authority for consent.

Listing isn’t intended to prevent development. It simply signals a special interest that should be taken into account in the planning process.

You won’t be asked to undo any work done to the building before it was listed. A building is listed as it is on the date of listing.

Find out more in our Information for Owners pages.

Categories of Listed Building

Buildings are put into one of three listing categories according to their relative importance. These categories are advisory and have no statutory status. All categories are treated equally under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

Category A
Buildings of national or international importance, either architectural or historic; or fine, little-altered examples of some particular period, style or building type. (About 8% of total listed buildings.)

Category B
Buildings of regional or more than local importance; or major examples of some particular period, style or building type, which may have been altered. (About 50% of total listed buildings.)

Category C
Buildings of local importance; lesser examples of any period, style, or building type, as originally constructed or moderately altered; and simple, traditional buildings that group well with other listed buildings. (About 42% of total listed buildings.)

            Listed buildings pie chart


View our range of publications about listed buildings.


Dictionary of Scottish Architects

William Fraser

A web resource for anyone interested in the built environment and those who created it.

Contact us

Designations Team
Historic Environment Scotland
Longmore House
Salisbury Place
Tel: +44 (0) 131 668 8716