Listed buildings

This fact sheet is aimed primarily at people who believe the council has failed to take account of a listed building when dealing with a planning application and may be considering making a complaint to the Ombudsman.

The council has not properly taken into account the fact that a building is listed when considering an application for planning permission. Can the Ombudsman help me? 

  • Yes, in some circumstances, although we cannot overrule the council's decision to grant or refuse permission. Councils have a duty to have special regard to the desirability, in the public interest, of preserving listed buildings or their settings or any features of special architectural or historic interest they possess.
  • If you believe the council did something wrong when it determined a planning application affecting a listed building, you can complain to us. 
  • We may consider complaints from local or national amenity/conservation groups and individuals who believe the historic or distinctive environment near their home has been lost or damaged, or threatened with damage or deterioration.  

How do I complain? 

  • You should normally complain to the council first. Councils often have more than one stage in their complaints procedure and you will usually have to complete all stages before we will look at your complaint.
  • Then, if you are unhappy with the outcome, or the council is taking too long to look into the matter – we think 12 weeks is reasonable – you can complain to us.
  • Usually, you should complain to us within 12 months of when you first knew about the problem. If you leave it any later, we may not be able to help.

For more information on how to complain, please read our step by step process to making a complaint

If you can consider my complaint what will the Ombudsman look for? 

If we investigate we might find that the council:

  • failed to take into account the setting of a nearby listed building when granting planning permission
  • failed to take enforcement action where work affecting a listed building was carried out without listed building consent
  • failed to enforce conditions subject to which listed building consent was granted, or
  • failed to follow the correct procedure – for example, councils must notify English Heritage and other national amenity groups when they receive applications affecting exceptional listed buildings (Grade I and II*) or their settings. There are more extensive notification requirements within Greater London. 

What happens if the Ombudsman finds that the council was at fault? 

It depends on the fault and what the consequences are for you. We can recommend that the council takes action to put the matter right. Depending on the effect upon you, we may ask the council to:

  • pay for remedial work or screening if that will reduce the harm caused, or
  • pay compensation if remedial work is not possible, and
  • improve procedures so that the same problems do not occur again.

Examples of some complaints we have considered

Ms X complained the council failed: to consider the impact of the proposal on the Grade Two listed properties and Conservation Area; to consider the requirements of the Conservation Area Appraisal published in 2007; to take account of objections from residents and the parish council. We found the planning officer’s report set out what legislation applied to the case and why the officer made their recommendation. They decided the application would not have a significant harmful impact on the character of the area. This was a professional judgement and decision the officer was entitled to make.We did not investigate Ms X’s complaint because we had not seen sufficient evidence to show the fault in the way the council came to its decision to approve the planning application.
Mrs X, complained the council failed to follow national and local policy when it approved an application to demolish a house and replace it with a new architect designed property. We found the planning officer’s report set out what legislation applied to the case and why the officer made their recommendation. The conservation officer identified there would be limited harm to the setting of the nearby listed building. The planning officer weighed the benefits of the scheme against the harm. The benefits include (but were not limited to) removing a deteriorating property and replacing it with a family home. The planning officer considered the benefits of the proposal outweighed the limited harm to the setting of the listed building. This was a professional judgement and a decision the officer was entitled to make. We did not investigate Mrs X’s complaint because there was not enough evidence of fault in the way the council decided to approve the planning application
Mr X complained about how the council dealt with his neighbour’s planning and listed building consent applications. Mr X said the development would cause a loss of light to his home and was not sympathetic to the grade II listed building. Mr X said his home would lose value and the council did not visit the site before granting permission for the development. We were satisfied the council properly considered the applications before granting planning permission and listed building consent. The case officer’s reports addressed the acceptability of the development, including the impact on neighbouring properties and the surrounding area. The case officer consulted the council’s conservation officer, and it was decided the development would conserve the character of the listed building. Loss of value to Mr X’s property was not a material planning matter and there was also no requirement for officers to visit the site before granting planning permission. We did not investigate Mr X’s complaint because we were unlikely to find fault by the council.
Mr S complained about a council’s failure to protect a Grade II listed wall from falling into disrepair and, in his view, becoming unsafe. The council had inspected the wall: it found it would benefit from repair but it was structurally stable. The council was aware of its powers in respect of dangerous buildings and structures and in respect of repairs notices but, because the wall was not, in its view, dangerous and it had no wish to acquire it compulsorily, it did not consider action appropriate. As the council inspected the wall and considered its options in an appropriate manner, there was no maladministration fault in the decision it reached, notwithstanding that Mr S did not agree about the safety of the wall.

Other sources of information

Useful information about the process of listing and listed buildings generally can be found at  

If you are unhappy about the way your application for listed building consent has been dealt with please also see our fact sheet on complaints about your planning application.

Our fact sheets give some general information about the most common type of complaints we receive but they cannot cover every situation. If you are not sure whether we can look into your complaint, please contact us.

We provide a free, independent and impartial service. We consider complaints about the administrative actions of councils and some other authorities. We cannot question what a council has done simply because someone does not agree with it. If we find something has gone wrong, such as poor service, service failure, delay or bad advice and that a person has suffered as a result we aim to get it put right by recommending a suitable remedy.

September 2022

LGO logogram

Review your privacy settings

Required cookies

These cookies enable the website to function properly. You can only disable these by changing your browser preferences, but this will affect how the website performs.

View required cookies

Analytical cookies

Google Analytics cookies help us improve the performance of the website by understanding how visitors use the site.
We recommend you set these 'ON'.

View analytical cookies

In using Google Analytics, we do not collect or store personal information that could identify you (for example your name or address). We do not allow Google to use or share our analytics data. Google has developed a tool to help you opt out of Google Analytics cookies.

Privacy settings