Breathing New Life Into Grade II Listed Buildings…The Right Way

HomeListed BuildingsBreathing New Life Into Grade II Listed Buildings…The Right Way

Breathing New Life Into Grade II Listed Buildings…The Right Way

There’s no doubt that we live in a disposable world, surrounded by fast food, single-use, throwaway products. Thankfully, the right people have long been aware of the irreplaceable nature of Grade II listed buildings here in the UK and have placed strict measures in place to maintain their unique personalities.

Grade II listed buildings have a distinct charm – a fact which developers, businesses and potential homeowners often find irresistible. However, the processes that need to be followed to perform almost any changes to these grand old ladies is often beyond the understanding and patience of the average person, which can result in frustration, wasted spend and unrealised expectations.

MarbleAir are specialists in the field of renovations, extensions and maintenance of listed buildings, and we’d like to share some of our experience with you.

What is a Grade II Listed Building?

There are two categories of Grade II listed buildings; Grade II and Grade II*, the latter being of particular importance or interest.

When a building or structure is listed, it means that it holds historical value, architectural or cultural interest. The various grades associated with listed buildings depends on how old the structure is and what it was used for. Any structure which was erected prior to 01 July 1948 can be listed, and many “ordinary” residential homes fall into this category.

What Can You Do With a Listed Building?

Let’s start with what you can’t do to a listed building.

Protected structures may not be demolished, altered or extended without special permission from the local planning officers. These diligent people (if asked) will likely contact the relevant authority which guides them with their decisions.

While that may be a broad brush stroke, your renovation or remodelling options on a Grade II listed building will become apparent as we dig a little deeper.


If you are maintaining elements of a structure and you are using like-for-like materials, then you will most probably find that permission will be granted quickly. For example, making necessary repairs to a wooden window would not pose a problem. However, replacing the taps in your kitchen which date back to Victorian times may land you in hot water.

Working with someone who knows and understands the depths of the change requirements for a Grade II listed building is critical before committing to any changes or spending any money. For example, MarbleAir understands that in some cases the interior fitting or fixtures are more important than the exterior – a fact that very few buyers are aware of.

Maintenance is actually a key requirement and should be undertaken with care in order to keep the balance between ensuring a safe and functional space and respecting the value of the building.

Renovation or Extension

If your planned renovations are going to significantly change the appearance of the structure, interfere with its overall feel, or have not been carefully thought through and properly presented to planning officers, then it’s likely that your plans will not be approved.

Renovations to Grade II listed buildings will need to:

  • Avoid alterations that change the indigenous style and character of the building (most likely the reason of its listing).
  • Consider alterations that are reversible and that complement historic structure rather than overpower by its appearance or bulk.
  • When repairing or maintaining the structure, make use of the same or similar materials to ensure the restoration is as close to the original as possible.
  • Generally, act to avoid intervention to listed fabric.

This seems pretty straight-forward until you realise that removing a section of damaged (lime) plaster and replacing it with a modern alternative is a criminal offence for which you can be reprimanded or fined for.

Consulting Listed Building Specialists

While we have only scratched the surface of the lengthy and often subjective rules and regulations surrounding Grade II listed buildings, it’s apparent that there are too many tripwires to go it alone. So, unless you have unlimited time and money (is that even possible these days?) then it would be wise to call in architects who have extensive experience with this red tape.

From listed building applications to your local authority, and creating an accurate Design, Planning & Access Statements to understanding and sourcing the materials required as specified on the schedule of works or dealing with retrospective changes, we know what’s coming before it happens.

The team at MarbleAir bridges the gap between you getting what you want and giving the authorities who care for these national monuments what they need.

We make sure to listen carefully and explore exactly what your needs are. Often at this critical consulting stage, we can already see what problems are going to crop up and we can steer you down a better path which will suit the powers that be, while still satisfying as many of your requirements as possible.

Regeneration projects that combine the old with the new are a particular passion of ours. We enjoy the challenge of sympathetic refurbishment, retaining the best of the old whilst modernising the space for the needs of today’s user. Revitalisation is at the heart of these projects.”

If you’re planning on making a change to a Grade I, II* & II listed building, but you aren’t sure where to start, please feel free to give the friendly team at MarbleAir a call on +44 (0) 1491 528912.