Buying a listed building in Oxford - should you take the risk?

Updated: October 17, 2018

Listed buildings are often a desirable prospect for heritage-loving homebuyers. Historic features like character windows and stone archways ooze charm. However, ownership means accepting various liabilities that might impact how you use your house.

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Where do I start?

First check out what classification of listed building the home you want to buy is. This will help define what you will need to preserve and maintain.

Grade I

Grade I are buildings of exceptional interest. Approximately 3% of listed properties are Grade I.

Grade II*

Grade II* buildings are particularly important and of more than special interest. Approximately 6% of listed properties are Grade II*.

Grade II

Grade II are buildings that are of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them. Approximately 91% of listed properties are Grade II.

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What will my obligations be?

The listing (which may cover the whole property) includes restrictions designed to preserve a property's architectural or historic value. These restrictions prevent unconsented alterations (such as the addition of a boiler flue) to the listed fabric of the building.

Typical examples of listed elements could include anything from window frames to types of stone used in the building.

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Alterations to a listed building

Building regulations approval and listed building consent from Oxford City Council for any changes is needed when purchasing a home with listed building status.

What if the property has been altered already?

The appropriate consents should exist if a listed building has been modified by a previous owner.

Failing to secure listed building consent for modifications is considered an offence. Responsibility for making sure all consents have been granted will be passed to the new owner.

What obligations must the purchaser fulfil?

As the owner of a listed building in Oxford, you are required to keep the home in a good state of repair.

If you do not and permit the property to deteriorate, the local council can take formal action, and may ultimately force you to sell the property to the authority if you do not comply.

Any maintenance often must be performed in an appropriate manner, such as cordwood construction and period masonry.

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Find listed buildings in Oxford

There exist around half a million listed buildings in England and Wales, and around 1,212 of which are in Oxford City Council.

Listed buildings and properties in and around Oxford include:

  • Presbytery To Roman Catholic Church Of St Aloysius, 25 Woodstock Road, Oxford, Oxfordshire
  • St Peters College, Screen And Gates Between Chapel And Hall Fronting New Inn Hall Street, St Peters College, Oxford, Oxford, Oxfordshire
  • The Warneford Hospital: Nurses' Home, Warneford Lane, Non Civil Parish, Headington, Oxford, Oxford, Oxfordshire

Complete listings can be found on the Historic England website database.

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

About the author

Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.

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