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Listed buildings

Wales's first listed building was designated in 1949 and since then more than 30,000  buildings across the country have been listed. The principal pieces of primary and subordinate legislation that provide for their protection and sustainable management are:

Primary legislation

The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990

This Act is the basic legislation that provides for:

  • the listing of buildings of special architectural or historic interest
  • the management of change to listed buildings through the listed building consent process
  • action against unauthorised works or deliberate damage to listed buildings
  • the prevention of deterioration of listed buildings through urgent works or compulsory purchase.

The Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016

The Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016 made a number of important amendments to the 1990 Act.

Consultation, interim protection and review of decisions to designate historic assets

Owners and others are now formally consulted when a building is being considered for listing or delisting. Interim protection safeguards historic assets from damage or destruction during the consultation period. An owner or occupier is able to request a review of a designation decision.

Temporary stop notices for listed buildings

A local planning authority can use a temporary stop notice to put an immediate halt to unauthorised works to listed buildings for 28 days.

Extending the scope of urgent works notices and introducing local land charges

A local planning authority can carry out urgent works on any neglected listed building if they do not unreasonably interfere with residential use. It will also be able to impose a local land charge for the recovery of costs associated with urgent works.

New rules for applications for certificates of immunity from listing

Planning permission, either granted or applied for, will no longer be a prerequisite for an application for a certificate of immunity from listing. This will encourage owners and developers to explore new uses for empty and neglected historic buildings.

Introduction of heritage partnership agreements

Heritage partnership agreements allow owners, consenting authorities and other interested parties to create long-term management plans for historic assets. The plans cover agreed programmes of works and can incorporate scheduled monument and/or listed building consents.


Further information on some of the listed building provisions of the Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016 can be found in the following fact sheet.


Subordinate legislation

The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Wales) Regulations 2012

These Regulations control a range of detailed matters relating to the application of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 including:

  • listed building consent application requirements
  • issues pertaining to applications including advertisement and electronic communication
  • appeals against decisions of local planning authorities
  • claims for compensation

The 2012 Regulations have been amended by the following Regulations.

The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2017

These Regulations included amendments governing the referral of listed building consent applications to the Welsh Ministers for determination and matters relating to appeals.

The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Wales) (Amendment No.2) Regulations 2017

These Regulations introduced a requirement for a heritage impact statement to support listed building and conservation area consent applications, replacing a design and access statement.

A heritage impact statement is the product of a structured heritage impact assessment process. This makes sure that the significance of the historic asset is taken into account when developing proposals for change. It is a core part of the design process, which tests whether the proposals for change are appropriate by assessing their impact on significance. Access issues will still be fully considered unless the proposed works involve a private dwelling.

Visit the heritage impact assessment page for further information.

The Listed Buildings (Review of Listing Decisions) Wales Regulations 2017

These Regulations supplement the 2016 Act’s provisions by setting out the grounds for reviews of listing decisions and various detailed procedural matters.

The Listed Buildings (Urgent Works) (Interest Rate on Expenses) (Wales) Order 2017

This Order establishes that any expenses incurred by a local authority during urgent works will now attract interest at Bank of England Base Rate plus 2% until recovery.

The Ecclesiastical Exemption (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Wales) Order 2018

The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 exempts all ‘ecclesiastical buildings for the time being in use for ecclesiastical purposes’ in England and Wales from listed building and conservation area consent controls. The Ecclesiastical Exemption (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Wales) Order 2018 restricts that exemption in Wales to those denominations that can show that they have internal systems of control that are, at least, equivalent to those of the consent processes of local planning authorities. Those are:

  • the Baptist Unions of Great Britain and Wales
  • the Church in Wales
  • the Church of England
  • the Methodist Church
  • the Roman Catholic Church.

The 2018 Order also establishes that:

  • conservation area consent is no longer subject to ecclesiastical exemption
  • listed and unlisted buildings and structures within the curtilage of a listed ecclesiastical building are now included under ecclesiastical exemption.

Best-practice guidance on managing change to listed places of worship and the new exemption regime has been published and is available for free download.