Buildings are listed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for their special architectural or historic interest. Manchester also has a number of Ancient Monuments and Listed Parks and Gardens.
Buildings that qualify for listing are:
- All buildings before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition
- Most buildings between 1700 and 1840, though selection is necessary
- Buildings between 1840 and 1914 of definite quality and character (including principal works of principal architects)
- Important post-war buildings more than thirty years old and selected buildings of high quality between 1914 and 1939.
Buildings are classified in grades to show their relative importance:
- Grade I - buildings of exceptional interest
- Grade II* - particularly important buildings of more than special interest
- Grade II - buildings of special interest warranting preservation
Once a building is listed it becomes subject to special planning controls whereby listed building consent is required for works that affect its special interest. These works may be either internal or external works and extend from the smallest project to wholesale demolition. Consent has to be obtained for any alterations and demolitions.
It is a criminal offence to carry out work which needs Listed Building Consent without obtaining it first. As most works that would alter the character of a listed building require Listed Building Consent, assume you have to apply for consent.
The majority of listed buildings in Manchester are dated from the Victorian and Edwardian periods at the time of the city's rapid expansion.