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What do we list?

St Lawrence's, Greenock
The Scottish Historic Environment Policy 2011 sets out the criteria we use to decide if a building merits listing (see pages 74–76 of the PDF).

Main reasons for selecting a building for listing are:

  • age and rarity
  • architectural or historic interest
  • close historical association

‘Building’ is a term used broadly in the legislation. It can cover a wide variety of man-made structures such as:

  • fountains
  • sundials
  • ha-has
  • statues
  • bridges
  • bandstands

You may find our glossary of architectural terms useful. Download our Glossary of architectural terms [PDF, 296KB]

A building can be listed even if it no longer has the same purpose as it did originally.

For example, we may list:

  • an industrial building converted into flats with retail units
  • a disused railway viaduct turned into a walkway or cycle path

A building’s condition is only a factor if it has devalued the particular architectural or historic interest such that it is no longer ‘special’.

Historic Environment Scotland will list a building which meets the criteria for special architectural or historic interest found on pages 74-76 of the Scottish Historic Environment Policy.

Buildings are considered for listing on a case-by-case basis. In exceptional circumstances, Historic Environment Scotland may not:

  • list a building that is found to meet the listing criteria
  • review an existing listing

Such circumstances might include but aren’t limited to:

  • development proposals that affect the character of the building
  • an appeal period or an appeal against refusal of planning permission
  • other development proposals

For requests to delist a building when there are development proposals and/or enforcement issues, cases will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Where there is a strong likelihood that the building no longer meets the criteria for listing we may proceed to investigate a case for delisting when there are unresolved development and/or enforcement issues.

Download our guide for owners and occupiers of Scotland’s listed buildings.

Number of listings each year

We get hundreds of requests every year to:

  • assess buildings for listing (designation)
  • review existing listings (amendment)
  • consider buildings for delisting (removal)

We received 62 individual listing proposals in 2013–14. Thirteen of the buildings proposed were listed, with:

  • none at category A
  • 4 listings at category B
  • 9 listings at category C

We received 37 delisting requests the same year: 16 were granted.

Where we don’t delist, the listed building record may be updated and the category could also change.

Listed building records

The ‘list’ is a record, one for each listing.  Every listed building record includes:

  • the address of the building – the only statutory element of the listing
  • a category – A, B or C
  • the date of listing

It may also include:

  • a description of the structure
  • supporting information about why the structure is of special architectural or historic interest
List descriptions written some time ago tend to be very brief.

The statutory address and other information give an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the building. But the listed building record isn’t intended to be a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building.

Search for a listed building
Download a glossary of architectural terms commonly used in the listed building record.
Download our guide for owners and occupiers of Scotland’s listed buildings.

A new-look listed building record will launch in 2015 following a redesign. We hope you will find this more user friendly.

What does the listing include?

  • the whole building or structure at the statutory address on the listed building record
  • both the interior and exterior, whatever the listing category

It may also cover structures around the building. The planning authority decides if the listing also covers other structures at the address.

This is known as the ‘curtilage’ of a listing.

For example, the curtilage of a listing for a country house (where only the house name appears in the statutory address) might include:

  • structures such as boundary walls, gates and gatepiers
  • additional buildings, like a lodge or stable block

To decide if curtilage applies, planning authorities will consider whether the structures:

  • were built before 1948
  • were in the same ownership as the main subject of listing at the time of listing
  • clearly relate to the main subject of the listing in terms of their (original) function
  • still relate to the main subject on the ground

Contact your planning authority if you are unsure about what is covered by a listing.

Listing exclusions

Legislation introduced on 1 October 2015 allows us to state that any of the following may be excluded from a listing:

  • an object or structure fixed to the building
  • any object or structure within the curtilage of the building
  • any part or feature of a listed building that is not of architectural or historic interest

This means you won’t normally need listed building consent for alterations to a building part that is identified as not of special interest.

You should still check with your local authority planning department before you undertake any work. While you might not need listed building consent, you may need other permissions, such as planning permission or a building warrant.

In some cases, you may still need listed building consent. For example, if you demolish a late 20th century extension which has been excluded from the listing, but is physically attached to the listed building, you may need listed building consent to make good any stonework on the listed building affected by the work. You may also need listed building consent and other permissions for a replacement building.

How to tell if something’s excluded

If part of your building is not listed under the new legislation, the part will be excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest. The statement will use the word ‘excluding’ and quote the relevant section of the Act.

Some earlier listed building records may use the word ‘excluding’, but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

Asking for an exclusion

Decisions about excluding parts of a building from a listing are taken very carefully.

Listing exclusions in complex buildings can be challenging. If we’re unable to access parts of a building, we’ll be unlikely to use an exclusion. We need to be aware of the potential for hidden features of interest.

If you want us to review a listed building, fill out our proposal form. Buildings where development is being considered may take precedence.

We have more than 47,000 listed building records, and earlier listings may not describe items of interest in detail. If a feature isn’t mentioned in the listed building record, that doesn’t mean it’s excluded from the listing.

Dictionary of Scottish Architects

William Fraser

Contact us

Designations Team
Historic Environment Scotland
Longmore House
Salisbury Place
Tel: +44 (0) 131 668 8701/5