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Energy efficiency, retrofitting, and sustainable construction supplementary planning document

What makes a good listed building application?

As well as reading this guidance it is important to engage with the Historic Environment Team at an early stage to establish whether or not we can support the proposals and, if so, the most appropriate approach to take.

This will usually require engagement with the formal pre-application advice service, for which there is a charge, however its benefits cannot be overstated and can, if in principle support can be provided, lead to a successful scheme and outcome.

When applying for Listed Building Consent for energy efficiency or renewable energy measures, there are a number of particular considerations. These predominantly relate to the level of impact, if any, on the architectural and historic interest of the protected building.

Designation is a formal and legal acknowledgement of a building's architectural and historic interest, and national significance and importance. Some change is inevitable and we will work with listed building owners to manage this change, and identify ways to meet the needs of occupants wherever possible. The level of change is likely to differ significantly from one building to another, and each building will be assessed on a case by case basis, and each building on its own merits.

Whilst anyone can apply for Listed Building Consent, in reality it requires specialist skills, knowledge, and experience, and therefore listed building owners are strongly advised to instruct a conservation specialist architectural professional to assist them, for example a surveyor, architect, or architectural technician.

We have a limited list of conservation specialists and this can be provided if required. You can email our the Historic Environment Team or more information.

The increasing focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy in recent years has led to a huge increase in the number of applications for improvement measures in listed buildings. This brings complexities as well as benefits, and it is important that applications are as clear as possible When submitting your application there are a number of things that need to be considered. Expand the sections below to find out more about each topic.


For many energy efficient measures, there can be a bewildering array of choices available. Spend time early on researching all the options available to you, and make sure the application reflects this and shows exactly why you have selected the system in question.

You should make it as easy as possible for us to assess your application. Doing your research also extends to choosing the right person or organisation to give you the professional support you will need, for example architects, surveyors, or contractors. Make sure you use someone who really understands both the energy and conservation aspects of your application, but most importantly they understand and are experienced in architectural conservation. It is important to be aware and have knowledge of the relevant specialist guidance, much of which has been produced by Historic England and is available on their website.


Provide as much detail as possible about the particular technology you want to install.

The type of draught proofing, double glazing, or solar panel will determine its impact on the building. Demonstrate that you have done your research and selected the system most sensitive and sympathetic for the building and, if relevant, for the setting of the conservation area and, in the case of Bath, the World Heritage Site.

Remember that for many improvement measures there are solutions available that are both effective and discreet, although some may require additional scoping works, for example a structural survey of a roof where solar panels are proposed to take account of the additional weight.

Specifications, drawings and photographs are all helpful to us, and photo-montages showing the likely appearance post-installations are also useful. If in doubt, provide more rather than less detail in the application.

A practical approach

The communication of a practical, common-sense, and sensitive approach will be expected. Showing that you have considered or adopted passive and low impact measures is important and consistent with the hierarchical approach.

For example, proposing a heat pump, and external and internal insulation in the first instance, having not considered and implemented simple draft exclusion, or replaced a gas central heating boiler with an efficient modern combination boiler would not be in line with the energy hierarchy, unless there were other factors in terms of impact on historic fabric you are considering.


For more visual measures such as solar panels, air source heat pumps,boiler flues, external wall insulation etc, demonstrate that you have thought about their impact on the buildings and,where relevant, the conservation areas appearance and setting, and what considerations have been taken to minimise the impact. Be sure to locate them in a discreet position.

Loss of historic fabric

Loss of significant historic building fabric is seldom regarded as acceptable and is inconsistent with the aims of heritage protection as enshrined in the primary legislation, national policy, and guidance relating to the historic environment. However there may be some circumstances where the temporary removal of historic fabric may be regarded as justifiable. The Historic Environment Team should be consulted in order to provide advice and clarification.


Precedence is not a determining factor in assessing changes to listed buildings, for example a measure approved on one building may not be deemed appropriate for another. Each application is assessed on its own merits, and this can mean that seemingly similar proposals for similar buildings do not always receive the same outcomes. However, it can be helpful to show us some examples of what you are proposing to help illustrate your application where this has been successfully applied on other buildings.


For higher-impact measures in particular it is important to explain and justify clearly why you feel they are needed for your property. Remember, while you may have a focus on saving energy, reducing your carbon footprint and CO2 emissions, or making your house warmer, we will assess the application based on its physical and visual impact on the architectural and historic interest of the listed building, and on the setting of the conservation area and other heritage assets where this is relevant.

Therefore it will be expected that stronger justification will be required in the case of higher impact measures: the greater the impact, the greater the justification that will be required. It will also be expected that relevant guidance has been consulted, and that the proposals are consistent with the approach advocated by the guidance and with conservation best practice.

Some example applications and cases are provided in the Local case studies section for you to read.

You can also view historic planning applications by using our View and comment on planning applications service.