Can You Change the Roof on Listed Buildings? –

When You Can and Cannot Change the Roof on a Listed Building


It’s a tricky question, but hopefully one we can answer here. Generally, if it’s a like-for-like replacement, then yes – but otherwise, it’s complicated…

Let’s start by briefly answering the question; what is a listed building?

In the simplest terms, a listed building is one that is protected by English Heritage.

This can be because the structure has historical or architectural significance, or because of the importance of the site it’s located on. Churches, town halls, libraries, mills, and other old or interesting buildings are often listed – but sometimes, so are some people’s homes.

To know what you can and can’t do to a listed building, you’ve first got to know about the grading system used for listed properties.

Grade I listed buildings are the most important, and have the most protection and limits imposed on them. They make up less than 8% of the listed buildings in the UK.

The other 92% are Grade II and II* – which are still significant, but there is some flexibility in regards to the changes you can make to them.

Regardless of which grade a building is, owners of listed buildings are bound by the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, as well as the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. 

These two pieces of legislature prohibit “alterations to the character of the building”, which is where things get tricky. That’s because the character of a building could be considered subjective, and also because the character can be defined by why the property is listed.

For instance, if the building is architecturally significant, then adding an extension would alter the character, and be prohibited in most cases. If the site is significant, then outbuildings might not be allowed on the grounds.

In some listed buildings, everything – including internal fixtures – must be kept the same. In others, only external character alterations and structural changes are prohibited, with fewer limits on the interior.

And to carry out any works, you’ll need to seek listed building consent and permission.

Listed Building Consent

Listing building consent is a form of planning control that protects listed buildings.


It’s against the law to carry out work on a listed building without getting permission. You can only submit a full, comprehensive, detailed plan for consideration – not an outline application, as for other buildings.


Getting permission to make any changes can be complicated for listed buildings, but it’s not impossible. It might just mean having to make a compromise to get the project accepted by planning.

When is listed building consent NOT required for roofing?

Listed Building Consent is not required to repair any roofs on a Listed Building where the original design, structure, materials, and colour are to be maintained. For example, a roof hung with Kent peg tiles must be repaired or changed with like-for-like traditional Kent peg tiles – not concrete, slate, or an alternative clay tile shape – in order to avoid seeking consent.

What CAN’T you do to a G2 listed building?

You cannot remove original architectural features – like windows, doors, and stonework, unless they are damaged and need like-for-like replacement. In many cases, these features must be custom made by hand, or with traditional methods, and seamlessly merged into the aesthetic.

Always use a listed building specialist roofing contractor

Be sure to hire the best contractors for the job when you need to change the roof on a listed building – ideally, with experience in conservation. The Tenterden Roofing team has previously worked on multiple heritage buildings, using techniques handed down from generation to generation.


We are fully prepared to deal with the specific regulations that apply to listed buildings, and carry out repairs in full accordance with the rules of English Heritage.

Roofing specialists for listed buildings since 1984

Tenterden Roofing is a listed building specialist roofing contractor, based in Kent. See our latest work on Instagram – and contact us for a quote at [email protected].

Period Property Roofing: England’s Historic Roofing Types:

Historic Roofing in England

The English architectural landscape isn’t what it used to be. Newly built housing developments, as needed and welcome as they are, tend to have the same look and feel. They’re like a hodge-podge of styles amalgamated into a “greatest hits” of housing styles; lots of plastic, lots of concrete. They’re amazing materials for construction – so naturally, they’re what we’re building the future with.

But once upon a time in England, there were no cookie-cutter homes.

There were no concrete roofing tiles, or plastic fascias, or composite cladding materials – and in our neck of the woods, clay was king.

England’s historic roofing types are many, and preserving those which remain is an important part of our shared heritage. Period property roofing techniques have been passed down to generation after generation of period roofing specialist – like us here at Tenterden Roofing.

So let’s explore the different roofing types used on heritage properties in England, and how each local environment shaped the way we used to build.

The main types of period property roofing in southern England

Long before the dawn of modern materials, homes, churches, and properties were built using the best materials available at the time – and that varied based on where you lived.

Kent peg roofing

Kent peg tiles date back to Roman times, but the practice was all but abandoned after the fall of the Roman empire. By the 14th century, ket peg roofing had returned in full force, as industrial uses for clay were ramped up around the country.

Locally, clay was an abundant material, used for bricks, tiles, and other wares. Brickworks in Kent were a common sight, and the abundance of Kent peg tiles in the area reflect the availability of the material.

Learn more about Kent peg tiling

Clay roof tiles were, and remain, ubiquitous in Kent – and the Kent peg method of hanging tiles remains a sought-after skill locally.

Natural slate roof tiles

Slate is a naturally occurring rock. It’s formed from clay that has been transformed several times due to compression and heating, deep within the Earth – so wherever there’s an abundance of clay, you’d expect to find slate in some quantity. But that’s not always the case; slate takes ages (quite literally) to form, and is only exposed by erosion or land upheaval.

Wales is considered the home of UK slate tiling, where deposits are common and exposed. The first recorded use of Welsh slate tiles dates back to the 1300s. By the 1700s, Welsh slate was exported globally at an industrial scale, with much of the material being used domestically and in neighbouring parts of England.

Slate tiles remain hugely popular all around England, because they often last longer than the rest of the building they cover!

Read more about slate roof tiles

Thatched and copper roofing

Although not an area we cover, it’s important to note the historical importance and aesthetic significance of thatch and copper roofing.

Thatching traditions vary significantly in different parts of the country, mostly based on what material was available when the roof was built; water reed, combed wheat reed or long straw. They all have similar results to the untrained eye – and all are susceptible to fire and animal infestations, making maintenance and care extremely important. Thatch is an important historical and heritage marker, and a practice that continues to this day for preserving period property roofing.

Copper roofing was historically reserved for buildings of great importance, owing to its high cost and the work required to fit it. Copper sheeting was commonly used, and grew in popularity around the world for roofing on churches and civic buildings during the 1920s and 1930s, when industrial manufacture was sped up. Copper roofing had many advantages, like a long life of 80 years or more – and the distinct green patina offers additional protection, as well as a unique heritage look.

Period property roofing specialists in Kent since 1984

Tenterden Roofing is a passionate team of period roofing specialists in Kent. See our latest work on Instagram – and contact us for a quote at [email protected].