What is the difference between Grade I, Grade II* or Grade II listed properties?

Here we explain what listed buildings are, and specifically look at the differences between Grade I, Grade II* and Grade II buildings.

Posted: October 26, 2022



differences between Grade I, Grade II* and Grade II listed buildings

In Suffolk, we have a spectacular array of historically interesting properties. For example, in Bury St Edmunds alone, we have 737 listed properties! Listed properties often come up for sale, but many people worry about the scary myths they’ve heard about them. Here we explain what listed buildings are, and specifically look at the differences between Grade I, Grade II* and Grade II buildings.

What is a listed building?

In short, a listed building is one which has been judged to be of national interest in the UK. The buildings are physically listed on The National Heritage List. The defining factor for buildings on this list is that they are “buildings of special architectural or historic interest.” In England and Wales, the sub-divisions on the list are called Grade I, Grade II* and Grade II.

Once a property is placed on the list, the building is protected under planning rules. This affects the whole building, inside and out, ensuring its character remains preserved so that we all get to enjoy these fascinating buildings for years to come. Indeed, we can probably thank the listing process for the character and fabric of our housing landscape. For example, stepping back in time as you wander down a Suffolk lane, viewing chocolate box cottages through hedgerows, probably wouldn’t exist without it.

Generally speaking, the older a property is, the more likely it is to be listed. Properties must be at least 30 years old to be listed, but it’s much less likely for a newer property to be listed. A significant number of buildings built before 1840 are listed. Listing doesn’t just refer to houses, but can even apply to barns, gravestones, bridges and even telephone boxes!

Anyone can nominate a property to be listed, but Historic England also lists properties on the advice of its own specialists.

You can search for listed properties in Suffolk and across the country on The National Heritage List.

The differences between Grade I, Grade II* and Grade II listed buildings

In England and Wales, listed properties are placed in one of three categories. All receive protection under planning law, but Grade I are most protected as they are seen as being of highest significance. Grade I listed buildings have more restrictions than Grade II. Here we outline the differences.

Grade I listed buildings

Grade I listed buildings

Grade I listed properties make up just 2.5% of listed buildings. These buildings are of exceptional interest. In Suffolk, we have a staggering 410 Grade I listed buildings, much more than many counties. Mostly, these aren’t private homes, but rather buildings such as churches.

The restrictions for planning can vary. Special permission is required to demolish, alter or extend these buildings and it’s generally not possible to affect the character of the building in your plans. This may also extend to other structures in the grounds, such as outbuildings.

Pictured the Abbey Gate Bury St Edmunds – next to our Bury St Edmunds office.

Old Chapel, Clare

Grade II* listed buildings

Grade II* listed properties are also particularly important and make up 5.5% of listed buildings. We have around 800 in Suffolk. Grade II* is a sub-division of Grade II but these properties are deemed to be of particularly special interest or national importance. It’s rarer that these are private homes.

Properties achieve Grade II* listed status often due to one or more specific period features such as a crown post or particularly impressive fireplaces or chimneys which elevate the property’s historical significance beyond a Grade II listing.

Pictured the Old Chapel, Clare  – is believed to be the oldest inhabited building in the county of Suffolk. Find out more on their website.

Grade II listed buildings

Grade II listed buildings

Most listed buildings, 92%, are Grade II listed. These buildings are of “special” architectural or historic interest. As such, it’s no surprise that we have numerous Grade II listed property homeowners in Suffolk.

The owners of residential homes which are Grade II listed must obtain listed building consent from the council when they want to carry out renovation work both inside and outside the building, as well as potentially on structures in the grounds.

Some property buyers may worry that this sounds like a headache for the future. However, remember that it is these rules which makes the property as attractive and desirable as it is. Also, the rules don’t prohibit change, extension and repair; they just ensure it is in keeping and protective of the property. You are not required to freeze time! You’re sure to want renovations to protect the aesthetic qualities of the property which you so love, so it’s rarely problematic to own a listed property. Instead, these properties are often highly sought after and increase notably in value.

It’s also worth noting that you can enjoy and use your listed property just as you would any other home. There are no further restrictions on you.

Even if you wish to demolish all or part of a historic building, this isn’t automatically ruled out. The council balances the building’s interest alongside other factors, such as viability, condition and use.

Buying a listed property

Buying a listed property

With such a wealth of listed properties in our region, there is always a wide choice of historical and unique properties to choose from. We know that listed properties are popular, precisely because of their character and charm, and we are here to help you find the home you are looking for.

Browse our properties for sale, or please get in touch for guidance selling your listed property in Suffolk.