View along a street of three-storey terraced brick houses.
Chapel Place, in Ramsgate's conservation area, Thanet, Kent © Historic England Archive
Chapel Place, in Ramsgate's conservation area, Thanet, Kent © Historic England Archive

What Permission Might I Need to Make Changes to My Older Home?

Working on older buildings may require extra types of planning permission. This page provides a brief summary of the different kinds of permission you may need if you live in a listed building or a conservation area or want to carry out work on a protected tree.

Information on the key points of contact, the role of local authorities and Historic England in relation to older homes, and other sources of advice can be found on Who Do I Contact?

Planning permission

The need for planning permission applies to all buildings. For older buildings, it may be needed in addition to other forms of permission, which are described below.

Find out if your work requires planning permission by visiting the government's Planning Portal.

If you need to apply for more than one type of permission, we recommend you apply for both at the same time. This will enable the local planning authority to consider all the implications together and make it easier to arrive at a decision.

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For listed buildings

You will need listed building consent for all work to a listed building that involves alterations, extensions or demolition and will affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. Your local authority will expect your listed building consent application to describe the significance of any heritage assets affected by the work you are planning. 

The requirement applies to all types of work and to all parts of the house covered by the listing if its special interest will be affected. Listed building consent may also be needed for buildings on your land.

Contact your local planning authority to apply for listed building consent.

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For homes in conservation areas

Some conservation areas are subject to special controls when the local authority wishes to protect particular building features, such as doors or windows. These are called 'article 4 directions', and restrict work that wouldn't normally require planning permission, such as replacing a window with one of a similar design.

To find out if an article 4 direction exists for your conservation area, contact your local authority. They will be able to tell you what kinds of work you'll need planning permission for.


If you live in a conservation area and want to demolish your building, you will need planning permission. If the building is listed you will also need listed building consent.

For trees on your property

Works affecting trees can be restricted in two ways: by a tree preservation order, or if they fall within a conservation area.

A tree preservation order prohibits most works to a tree, including cutting down, topping or lopping. Your local authority can tell you if a tree is protected in this way. If it is, you will need to apply to them for consent before any work is carried out.

In conservation areas, if you want to carry out works to a tree with a diameter above 75 millimetres at breast height (1.5 metres), you must notify the local authority six weeks beforehand. This allows them to consider attaching a tree preservation order to the tree if it is worthy of protection.

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Building regulations approval

You may need building regulations approval for some repairs and changes (for example, replacing windows and doors; replacing roof coverings; replacing heating systems; replacing bathrooms; adding insulation; structural repairs and more). 

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Other types of permission

Some types of historic property require different forms of consent or permission. Works to some listed places of worship, for example, can be regulated by the ecclesiastical exemption rather than listed building consent, while scheduled monuments and archaeology need a different form of permission.

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Before you apply

If you are thinking about making changes our section on home improvements covers common types of work such as altering windows or adding a conservatory and provides useful tips about what to consider and whether you are likely to need permission.

You will also find information on repair work in our section on maintaining and repairing older homes, and on energy efficiency measures such as solar panels in our section on saving energy.