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What is listing?

St Lawrence's, Greenock
Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with ensuring that our historic environment provides a strong foundation in building a successful future for Scotland. One of our duties is to compile and maintain statutory lists of buildings of special architectural or historic interest. We have a dedicated team which researches and assesses listing proposals.

Listing is the recognition through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 that a building or structure is of ‘special’ interest. Historic Scotland lists buildings on behalf of Scottish Ministers.

Many buildings are of interest, architecturally or historically, but when considering a building for listing this interest must be ‘special’. To merit listing the structure must meet set criteria (see the What do we list? page).

Listed buildings enrich Scotland’s landscape. They help to create our distinctive character and are a highly visible and accessible element of Scotland’s rich heritage. Spanning a wide range of uses and periods, together they chart a great part of the history of Scotland and contribute significantly to our sense of place.

They cover diverse aspects of life, from education to recreation, to defence, industry, homes and worship. Much of Scotland’s social and economic past and its present are expressed in these exceptional buildings. Listing recognises their importance.

Listing is not intended to prevent development, but instead to act as a signal in the planning process that there is special interest which may need to be taken into account when changes are proposed. Issues such as sustainability, community identity, place-making, and social and economic regeneration can all be explored at this stage.

Listing means that listed building consent will be required from your planning authority if you are planning to make alterations which in the local authority’s view will affect the character of the building. Find out more in our Information for Owners pages.

How many listed buildings are there?

The number of listed buildings changes almost daily, however,  on 9th May 2013 there were 47,649 listed building records (a record can sometimes include more than one building – such as a terrace).
            Listed buildings pie chart
There are three categories of listing and buildings are assigned to one of these according to their relative importance. The categories themselves are not statutory and all categories of listed buildings are treated equally under the legislation.

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. (Approximately 8% of the total).

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. (Approximately 50% of the total).

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 which group well with other listed buildings. (Approximately 42% of the total)


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

Listing and Designed Landscapes
Historic Scotland
Longmore House
Salisbury Place
Tel: +44 (0) 131 668 8701/5