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Managing change to listed buildings

Listed buildings are a finite resource to cherish and protect for future generations. Change may be desirable or necessary, but needs to be well managed.

Your listed building is a valuable asset that cannot be replaced, but it has probably already changed over time and you may need to make further changes. Conservation is about the careful management of change. This means finding the best way to protect and enhance the special qualities of your listed building so that present and future generations can appreciate and enjoy it. Caring for listed buildings appropriately, and retaining them in sustainable use, helps ensure that they continue to contribute to the value of Wales and the lives of its people.

The underlying philosophy of conservation is set out in Cadw’s Conservation Principles for the Sustainable Management of the Historic Environment in Wales (Conservation Principles). This makes it clear that every conservation decision should be based on an understanding of its likely impact on the special qualities that contribute to the significance of your listed building. A thorough understanding of the significance of your listed building goes a long way towards ensuring that any changes you propose respect what’s special about it. Understanding the condition and performance of your listed building can also help you to maximise the benefits of change and minimise the harm.

Many types of change will need special permission known as listed building consent, which is administered by your local planning authority. If you are in any doubt, then it is better to enquire and consult your local planning authority rather than to make mistakes which can be both hard to rectify and expensive. You could be committing a criminal offence as well.

Managing Change to Listed Buildings in Wales is aimed principally at owners of listed buildings to help them understand the implications of owning a listed building and the general principles to consider when making changes to it. As a general rule, any change that would result in loss of historical form, fabric or detail, such as internal fittings, should be kept to the minimum.

It also explains how to apply for listed building consent, including the roles and responsibilities of owners, local planning authorities and the Welsh Government’s Historic Environment Service (Cadw).

Managing Change to Listed Buildings in Wales supplements Planning Policy Wales and Technical Advice Note 24: The Historic Environment.