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Listed Buildings and Skylights

14 February 2019
In this comprehensive piece, we will explain exactly what is required to fit one of our world-leading and unique products in a listed building, from the various grades of building to the planning permission required.

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What is a listed building?

A ‘listed building’ is “a building, object or structure that has been judged to be of national importance in terms of architectural or historic interest”. By officially listing a building it helps to preserve any historic features the structure may have. Any building that is deemed as ‘listed’ is registered on a list entitled the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.

In England, anyone can nominate a building to be listed through Historic England and they make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). It is this body that makes the final decision and they base that on the different principles, rules and regulations that a building must meet in order to become listed.

The National Heritage List for England keeps an official guide of all listed buildings in the country.

Types of listed buildings

There are different types or grades of listed buildings depending on how much historical importance they have or if they have any features that would be in the public’s best interest to preserve for future generations.

· Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest

· Grade II* buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest

· Grade II buildings are of special interest

It is estimated that there are around 500,000 listed buildings on the NHLE. At the time of writing, only 2.5% of listed buildings are categorised as Grade I, 5.8% are Grade II*, and 91.7% of all listed buildings are Grade ll, making it the most likely grade of listing for a home owner.

Lighting and insulation

When you own or live in a listed property, changes you wish to make will be restricted. Listing covers the exterior and interior of a building, unless you have exceptions detailed in the documents that confirm your listing. Any alterations you wish to make to the property will need to be approved first, to make sure that the historic value and integrity is being preserved.

Lighting and insulation will be one of the more prominent concerns in a listed building, as older properties may have dated windows that are historically valuable and attractive, but not as capable of letting in light and keeping in heat as their modern-day counterparts.

Historic England explain that repair to any historical windows is often better than replacement, especially if the glass is rare. However, if the windows are not of particular interest, and can be replaced in a way that complements the building in an appropriate style, replacement may be approved. As with all new windows, they must comply with energy efficiency requirements, as part of Building Regulations.

In the case of skylights being installed into lofts, Historic England state that: “The aim should be to keep alterations to the outside of the roof to a minimum” and they recommend rooflights that sit flush with the roof. At Sunsquare, we can work with you to develop products that will fit in seamlessly with your listed building’s character.

Each listed building will have its own individual features, so there is no set list of changes that can or cannot be made. If you currently live in or have purchased a listed property, and wish to make changes, you should seek advice before making them. You can either contact your local authority or conservation officer about this.

Planning permission

As explained in our blog Roof Windows and Planning Permission: The Ins and Outs you don’t normally require planning permission for rooflights or skylights, however this is slightly different in the case of a listed building. You will have to check first with your local planning authority before carrying out any work.

There may also be something put in place called an “Article 4 Direction” which is a type of planning restriction that means certain works which could normally be undertaken with no extra restrictions will be the subject of control.

Be sure to check the NHLE list before you start to ensure your building is either listed or listed correctly before you begin to research planning permission for your specific project.

How Sunsquare could help

At Sunsquare, we have worked on various historic properties where sensitivity was required. Our products can be designed to exact bespoke requirements to make sure you get the best in light and venthilation, while still honouring the historic merits of an older building. Take a look at our case studies below to see the previous work completed by us:

Return of the Dragons — The Restoration of Kew Gardens’ Great Pagoda

Contemporary Rooflights — Bringing Light to a Listed Building

Get in touch

Interested in finding out more about how a Sunsquare skylight can help improve your listed building? Contact us today!

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