Any changes to a listed building need to have special permission and the local planning authority may stipulate that the owners must use specific materials or techniques in order to maintain the building's unique historic status.Cenotaph in London.
Many Parish churches are listed buildings, but while they remain in use for ecclesiastical purposes they are generally outside the scope of many of the required controls.
In England the authority for listing lies with English Heritage. In Wales the statutory body is the Cadw, which means "to keep". In Scotland the responsibility lies with Historic Scotland and in Northern Ireland, it is the Ulster Architectural Society who looks after the heritage.
There are different degrees of importance. They are Grades I, II* and II in England and Wales, while Scotland and Northern Ireland use the grades A, B and C.Buckingham Palace, the Royal Albert Hall and York Minster.
Grade B or II* are particularly important buildings with more than special interest. About 5.5% of listed buildings merit this status. The lavish Art Deco Battersea Power Station is a famous example along with Shibden Hall in Calderdale and the Stoke-on-Trent Railway Station.Grade C or II are of special interest and warrant every reason to be preserved. These include Alexandra Palace and BT Tower in London.
Listing began as a means of protest at some noteworthy buildings which were demolished and lost forever.
Buildings may be listed for their age, especially if they were built before 1700 and are still in reasonably original condition. They may have architectural merit, they may have been the location of a historic event or have a connection to a famous person.
Currently there are about 373,000 listed buildings in Great Britain and the full list can be inspected at the National Monuments Record in Swindon, or the relevant district office.
There is also a photographic library of listed buildings maintained by English Heritage at the Images of England website.