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Listed building & conservation area consent

Detail on gate

What is listed building consent?

Listed building consent is the mechanism by which the planning authorities ensure that any changes to listed buildings are appropriate and sympathetic to their character.

You must obtain listed building consent from the authority if you wish to demolish, alter or extend internally or externally a listed building.

Although listing does not mean that the building must remain unaltered in all circumstances, it does mean that demolition will generally not be allowed, and alterations and extensions should, as far as possible, preserve its special character.

It is a criminal offence to demolish, alter materially or extend a listed building without listed building consent.

How do I know if I need listed building consent?

If you are planning to make alterations which may affect the character of the building, contact your local planning authority who will tell you whether they consider the works require listed building consent.

How do I apply?

Applications for listed building consent must be made through the planning authority who will be able to provide you with the required form. More planning authorities are enabling online applications to be submitted. You can check your local authority planning website for information and guidance on this.

If you wish to alter or extend a listed building and your proposed alteration is included in a development for which planning permission is required, you will need both planning permission and listed building consent.

There is no fee for listed building consent but there is normally a fee for planning permission. The planning authority can confirm this. Planning authorities will normally process any associated applications for planning permission and listed building consent at the same time.

How long does the process take?

Planning authorities aim to reach a decision on all applications for listed building consent within eight weeks.

What is the local authority’s role in listed building consent?

The local authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent. They will consider applications in the light of the advice given in Historic Environment Scotland’s Managing Change Guidance Notes and other national policy documents as well as their own policies.

What is Historic Environment Scotland’s Role in Listed Building Consent?

Historic Environment Scotland is a statutory consultee for certain types of listed building consent applications.  This means that the planning authority is required by regulations to consult Historic Environment Scotland. Historic Environment Scotland will provide advice that the planning authority will take on board in its determination.  In some cases, Historic Environment Scotland may choose to object, and if the planning authority is minded to grant consent it is required to notify Scottish Ministers of that intention.    


Scottish Ministers, in some cases, may decide that an application such significant issues that they should call the application in for their own determination. When the Scottish Ministers decide to call in a case, a Reporter is appointed who may arrange a public local inquiry, according to the wishes of either the applicant or the local authority.

How can I appeal against refusal of listed building consent?

If your application for listed building consent is refused by the planning authority or if you feel the conditions are unreasonable you have the right to appeal. You must appeal using a form which can be obtained from:

The Scottish Government
Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals
4 The Courtyard
Callendar Business Park
Callendar Road
Falkirk FK1 1XR


The appeal must be accompanied by full details of the proposed works and by a copy of all relevant correspondence with the planning authority.

Does this mean that I can't alter my listed building?

No. Listing is a mechanism designed to help manage change to listed buildings, so as to safeguard their special architectural or historic character, rather than preserve them in aspic.

There are approximately 28,000 category A or B-listed buildings in Scotland so each year around 10% of these listed buildings receive listed building consent for alterations. This clearly illustrates that listed buildings are being adapted to changing circumstances.

What about like for like repairs?

If you need to make repairs or do routine maintenance on your building, and you are using the same materials as already exist, you will not need listed building consent but we recommend you check with your local planning authority before you start repairs to ensure they agree the materials are like for like.

Building Preservation Notices

Planning authorities can serve building preservation notices to protect unlisted buildings which they consider to be of special interest and which are threatened by demolition or extensive alterations. The building will be protected by the same legal provisions as a building which has been listed.

The notice is effective for up to six months, during which time Historic Environment Scotland will decide whether or not the building in question should be listed.


All proposals to demolish all or part of a listed building require listed building consent, regardless of category. Proposals to demolish most types of unlisted buildings in Conservation Areas also require consent.

Because listed buildings are a rare and unique resource, the presumption will be against granting permission to demolish unless it can be shown that there is no viable alternative.

Listed Building and Conservation Area Consent for Demolition

If consent for demolition is granted, the demolition may not begin until there has been an opportunity to make a record of the building.

In this case, Historic Environment Scotland must be notified by the owner, and demolition must not begin until three months after the date of notification.

The owner will be advised of the correct procedure by the planning authority granting consent.


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

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