Listed Buildings

We are privileged in our corner of the county to be surrounded by some of the most beautiful historic buildings, not simply churches and guildhalls but some stunning privately owned houses.

Such buildings are special for very many reasons, yes they are often beautiful to look at, take for example, the stereotypical chocolate box thatched cottages of Cavendish, but they also serve as a reminder to us of how past generations lived and as a result they need to be protected not just for this generation but for our children’s children.

That protection is afforded by the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport who is empowered to place those buildings which are of particular architectural or historic interest on a register or list, they are known as ‘listed buildings’.

Buildings are chosen for a variety of reasons, age and architecture are important but it may be that a building has a particular association with an historic event, it may even be that it is part of a small group of properties which are together of significant or special interest.

In the Babergh District Council area alone there is something in the region of 4000 properties on the Listed Building Register, ranging from farm workers cottages to the childhood home of the fictional character Harry Potter.

The ‘listing’ itself contains a brief description of the building to assist with identification. This is often simply a description of the building and its features. The building is ‘protected’ from its foundations to its chimney pot and all parts in between and that protection can extend to structures within the curtilage of the building in addition to the building itself.

By its nature the building is irreplaceable and therefore as the owner of a listed building you are required by law to apply for consent of the planning authority to carry out any demolition, alterations, extensions or indeed changes to the building and any structure within the curtilage which would affect its character and this application is in addition to any requirement for planning permission.

Failure to obtain the appropriate consent is a criminal offence, punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment or an unlimited fine. Whilst prosecution is unlikely to result in the building being restored to its previous state it will deter others and ensure that those who do comply with the law are not disadvantaged.

In addition to prosecution the local authority may issue a listed building enforcement notice requiring restoration or alleviation of the effects of the unlawful work. Failure by the owner to comply with such a notice is itself an offence which carries an unlimited fine even if those works were carried out by a previous owner.
So yes, ownership of a listed building carries with it some responsibilities, but if you take proper legal advice and investigate the planning history of the building before you buy it you can enjoy being the custodian of ‘a little piece of history’.

Written by Lorraine Moser – Bates Wells & Braithwaite – 01787 880440

Lorraine Moser


Lorraine joined the firm in 1997 as a Fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives and after qualifying as a solicitor in 2003 was appointed Head of the Residential Property Department.

She deals with all aspects of residential conveyancing and is the Practice Manager at Bates Wells & Braithwaite.

Away from work, Lorraine, who lives locally with her husband, enjoys an active life and her interests include hiking, canoeing, skiing, motorcycling and horse riding.


Please note that Bates Wells & Braithwaite are still operating during the Covid-19 Pandemic and will be throughout.


You can enter reception during our standard opening hours of 9:00am – 5:30pm Monday to Friday to enable you to produce ID or drop off or collect documents or to attend a pre-arranged meeting.

The office will be closed between the hours of 1pm and 2pm.


Please note that our Covid Policy requires all visitors to wear a face mask (unless you are exempt) and observe social distancing, even after July 19th 2021

This is to ensure that we continue to be able to offer an environment as safe as possible for all clients and staff


  • All meetings will remain to be by appointment only and where possible we ask that you arrange appointments by contacting us by telephone or email in order to assist social distancing measures.
  • We ask that you please do not arrive early or late to an appointment as we have to strictly control the numbers of people entering the building at any one time.
  • On entry, you will be required to wear a mask, obey social distancing rules, use the hand sanitiser provided and the wall mounted thermometer prior to approaching the reception desk.
  • To assist with social distancing, you may find you are asked to wait on the pavement outside the office, or that the front door is locked in order to control the number of people in reception at any one time.

We have a visual walk-through you can access by clicking here to outline all the rules and precautions we have had to put in place


If you are not yet ready to attend our offices we will still offer telephone or video appointments where possible.


Please call us on 01787 880440 to discuss existing or new instructions.


Thank you

The Directors of Bates Wells & Braithwaite

Last updated: 15/07/2021