Village Cross, High Street, Stanton
Village Cross, High Street, Stanton, Gloucestershire © Historic England DP139043
Village Cross, High Street, Stanton, Gloucestershire © Historic England DP139043

A Fifth of Listed Building Owners Running a Business From Their Property, Says New Report

A new report published today [Monday 30 October] by Historic England shows that 1 in 5 (21%) owners of residential listed properties are also running some kind of commercial venture from them.

Activities include opening up areas of their properties or outbuildings to the public as temporary art galleries, renting them out as office space, and providing accommodation such as B&Bs. Others are making their properties available for events such as weddings, parties and business functions or using them for farming and agricultural activities, and retail activities - such as cafes.

A total of 1,345 respondents across England were questioned as part of the Survey of Listed Buildings Owners 2017 report, which is sponsored by specialist insurer, Ecclesiastical.

Read the Survey of Listed Buildings Owners 2017 report

The findings of the survey also show that owners of these historic buildings - which can range from terraced houses to simple country cottages and stately homes - don't always know where to go for advice on matters relating to their property. Just over a third (38%) said they don't know where to go for information on insurance, financing or specialist mortgages, whilst a quarter (27%) said they don't know where to go for advice on flood prevention, retrofitting and energy saving.

And when it comes to dealing with local authorities on planning advice and permissions, a small majority of respondents (51%) rated their overall experience of the planning process as good or very good.  More than half of respondents (57%) said that the pre-application advice that they received from their local authority was good or very good, and a similar number (56%) said the time taken for the planning permission process was good or very good.

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said: "Owners of listed buildings care for the greatest share of our historic fabric. It's heartening news that a number of properties, rich in heritage, are being opened up by their owners for others to enjoy through a range of different business activities. This sort of research helps us understand the many ways in which historic buildings and places benefit local economies as well as contributing greatly to local culture and identity.

Faith Parish, who heads up Ecclesiastical's heritage business, said: "It's fantastic to see so many commercial heritage property owners diversifying their business models and exploring new opportunities. It's just worth checking that you're fully covered if you are undertaking any form of commercial activity and your insurer can help you with managing any associated risks. Having that conversation is even more important if the activity involves members of the public coming on to your property."

Case studies

Glyn Powell-Evans and his family run a holiday letting and wedding business from a 1000-year-old Grade I listed Manor House on the edge of the Surrey Hills. Great Tangley Manor is a large private residence available for exclusive use, for up to 12 guests. They also offer hire the venue for weddings. All the proceeds of the business are used to maintain and improve the building and gardens. They purchased half of the property in 1998 and the other half in 2007.

Anna Mansell is an author working from home; a Grade II listed, 17th century farm cottage situated in the middle of a working dairy farm near St Ives in Cornwall. Purchased in 2016, the cottage is steeped in history, in stunning surroundings on the hamlet. The beautiful building even offers its own witches marks on the sills and possibly a few suspected ones inside.


Historic England recently published 'A Guide for Owners of Listed Buildings' to answer some of the most commonly asked questions by those who live in or care for listed properties. It provides information about the listing process and what to consider when owners want to make changes to their home, such as adding an extension or updating windows. It also covers some of the most common problems faced by people living in older buildings, such as dealing with damp.