A listed building is a building that has been placed on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest kept under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.
Additional consents will be required from the local authority before works can be carried out to a listed building. You will need listed building consent for most internal works to the building as well as for external alterations or extensions even if they would not normally require planning permission. Listed building consent will also be required if a listed building is to be wholly or partly demolished. It may also be necessary to obtain the approval of English Heritage to any proposal.
Carrying out works to a listed building, without obtaining the necessary consents, is a criminal offence. If you purchase a listed property in which unauthorised works have previously been carried out, the planning authority has the power to take enforcement action against you and insist that the property is reinstated to its original form.
There is no time limit for enforcement action to be taken by the planning department. We would therefore always recommend that if you are purchasing a listed building, during the course of the purchase and prior to exchange you obtain a copy of the listing from English Heritage and attend the property with a surveyor to check that no unauthorised works have been carried out.
The English Heritage website provides lots of detailed informaiton on listed buildings www.english-heritage.org.uk. If you are planning to carry out works to your listed building I would strongly recommend that you discuss the works with the planning authority to ensure that consent can be obtained, before proceeding any further.