The team does a great deal of work with applicants wishing to make alterations to, or change the use of listed buildings. Listed buildings are of national architectural or historic interest - this can be anything from a major building such as a cathedral to a terrace or cottage. Some buildings are listed because they have been designed particularly well, or they may be one of a kind, other buildings might be listed if they are associated with important events in history.


Is a building listed?
Check the Listed Buildings search page

Boundary stone, Cox Green

What is a listed building?
A listed building is a building identified by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) as being of architectural or historic interest, usually on the advice of English Heritage. This can be anything from a major building such as a cathedral to a humble Sunderland cottage. Even an individual boundary stone or lamppost can be listed. English Heritage will request an inspector to assess the building, after which a recommendation is sent to the DCMS.

Why do buildings get listed?

Some buildings are listed because they have been designed particularly well, or they may be one of a kind. Although a building may not appear outwardly to be of particular note, it can be listed if its interior is of particular note. Other buildings might be listed if they are associated with important events in history.

Elephant Tea Rooms, Fawcett Street; an eccentric design with early and innovative use of concrete and terracotta

When does a building qualify for listing?

Buildings that qualify for listing are:

All buildings before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition
Houghton Hall; an early 17th century manor house in Houghton-le-Spring

Most buildings from between 1700 and 1840, though selection is necessary
Phoenix Lodge, Freemason's Hall; built 1785 by John Bonner

Between 1840 and 1914 only buildings of definite quality and character
The Post Office, West Sunniside; built in 1903 as the General Post Office, now converted to residential apartments

Selected buildings of high quality between 1914 and 1939 are also considered and particularly important post-war buildings more than thirty years old are also eligible.
World War II pillbox at New Herrington; one of two rare surviving examples of a lozenge-shaped pillbox, formerly part of an inland stop-line

In choosing buildings, particular attention is paid to:

Special value within certain types, either for architectural or planning reasons or as illustrating social and economic history (for instance, industrial buildings, railway stations, schools, hospitals, theatres, town halls, markets, exchanges, almshouses and mills)
Washington F-Pit Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
Washington F Pit winding house

Technological innovation or virtuosity (for instance, cast iron, prefabrication, or the early use of concrete)
World War I acoustic mirror, Carley Hill

Group value, especially as samples of town planning (for instance, squares, terraces or model villages
Late Georgian-early Victorian terraces on West Sunniside

Association with well-known characters or event
St. Peter's Church, part of the Anglo-Saxon monastery where the Venerable Bede was a renowned member of the community from 680-735 AD

What is the point of listing buildings?
Important buildings need to be protected so that everyone can enjoy them. They often add character to an area, and sometimes they can even tell us how buildings were built hundreds of years ago using local materials, techniques and features peculiar to the area. It is these buildings that give a locality its distinctive character and a quality of belonging to that place. However, once an important building has been demolished it is lost forever.

How does this affect me and where can I find this information?
If you live or work in a listed building and you want to alter it in any way, inside or out, you should first talk to a Planning Officer from the City Council. They will be able to tell you whether or not you can carry out the work and, if you need permission from the Council, you will be required to make a Listed Building Consent application. It is a criminal offence to carry out any alterations to a Listed Building without getting permission from the Council.

To check whether a building is listed use the listed building search pages, or contact the Conservation Team on 0191 561 1515.

What else do I need to know about Listed Buildings?
Listed buildings are given a grade depending on how important they are:

Grade I - These are buildings of exceptional interest
Grade II* - These are particularly important buildings of more than special interest
Grade II - These are buildings of special interest, which warrant every effort being made to preserve them.