Advice and Support

Listing process

How we assess listing applications and requests for listing removals or for reviews of existing buildings.

1 Overview

We assess three main types of applications:

  • listing application (designation)
  • requests for reviews of existing listings (amendment)
  • requests for listing removals

Assessing an application may involve a number of detailed steps before we can reach a final view.

In this guide, you can find out about these steps:

  • research
  • consultation
  • completion
  • review of a listing decision

We also:

  • work in partnership with stakeholders to assess larger sites in advance of major development or planning proposals
  • carry out thematic studies of building types

Find out how to propose a building for listing, removal of a listing or review.

Find out about service standards and timescales.

2 Research

Evidence Gathering and Assessment

When we receive an application we will publish the case on our Portal and welcome comments and information about the site to inform our assessment. We will carry out research to assess the building using the selection guidance and will consider the evidence submitted to us. A wide range of sources may be considered and this stage may also include a site visit. This stage can take a number of weeks to complete.

We write to the relevant parties if we find that the building doesn’t meet the criteria of special architectural or historic interest for designation as a listed building or if we don’t intend to proceed for any other reasons.

3 Consultation

Following research, we consider the merit of the building.

If we find that the building may be of interest – or not of interest in the case of delisting and Certificate of Intention Not to List (COINTL) requests – we reach an initial decision on the application.

We then consult with the planning authority and the owner (where possible) about this decision. We also welcome views from interested parties through our portal. We are primarily concerned with views that relate to the cultural significance of the building. We also consider comments on the purpose and implications of designation.

The consultation period is usually 21 days. For more complex sites or larger projects this stage can take longer.

In some cases we may decide to designate a site or place without a consultation period or we may conclude a consultation earlier than stated. This may be because the site or place is under urgent or imminent threat and we consider that this level of risk is unacceptable.

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4 Completion

Following consultation, we consider the responses and make a final decision about whether to:

We will normally tell the owner if a building that they own or occupy has:

  • been listed
  • been removed from the list (unless it has been demolished)
  • had the statutory address (the legal part of the listed building record) changed 
  • been issued a COINTL

We will also tell the planning authority, and will let it know about all listing removals.

5 Review a listing decision

We will only review a very recent decision to list if there is good reason to do so.

Such reasons might include:

  • loss to the building since its listing
  • significant evidence, not previously considered, relating to the building’s special architectural or historic interest

6 Notification of listing

We will try to contact the owner of a building that is being considered for listing. This can be more difficult for an uninhabited structure such as a bridge.

We will normally tell you if a building that you own or occupy has:

  • been listed
  • been removed from the list (unless it has been demolished)
  • had the statutory address (the legal part of the listed building record) changed
  • been issued a COINTL

We will also inform the planning authority and we will also let it know about all listing removals.

In exceptional circumstances, we may list a building without consulting with its owner.

You can write to us if you want to know who proposed your building for listing. We consider each request individually. Data Protection legislation may mean that we can’t name the proposer.

Send your request to:

Historic Environment Scotland 
Longmore House 
Salisbury Place 

Or email:

See what is covered by a listing

Find out the criteria for listing

View the steps in the listing process

Find out how to make a listing proposal

7 Service standards and timescales

Our overall aim is to provide a high quality, transparent and professional service within defined timescales.

We aim to respond to phone and email queries within 3 working days. Our preferred method of communication is by email.

Individual designation applications

We aim to complete individual designation requests within 6 months.

The timescales for our assessment and decision-making vary depending on the circumstances of the case. We prioritise cases according to factors such as our understanding of risk to a site, the potential impact on people and communities and any planning or development context.

Please note that we are currently experiencing a high caseload and cases are taking on average 6-12 months to complete. Some cases may take longer depending on the case type and priority. For example, some sites may be considered for recording and/or further research in the first instance or for a thematic designation project. We will contact you to let you know if we think the case will take longer than initially expected.

We ask that you let us know if circumstances affecting the site under review so we can consider the priority of the case.

Keeping in touch and feedback

You can follow the progress of your case by checking our portal using the Case ID (ex. 300065300) or by contacting us by email or by telephone.

We welcome feedback about our service. Please let us know what you think.

Telephone: 0131 668 8914

8 Listing criteria

To be listed a building must meet the criteria of special architectural or historic interest. The Designation Policy and Selection Guidance 2019 sets out the selection guidance we use to decide if a building merits listing.

Main reasons for selecting a building for listing are:

  • architectural interest
  • historical interest

A ‘listed building’ means a building that is included in the List. ‘Buildings’ are anything made by people such as:

  • fountains
  • sundials
  • ha-has
  • statues
  • bridges
  • bandstands

You may find our glossary of architectural terms useful.

Download our Glossary of architectural terms [PDF, 296KB]

A building can be listed even if it no longer has the same purpose as it did originally.

For example, we may list:

  • an industrial building converted into flats with retail units
  • a disused railway viaduct turned into a walkway or cycle path

The extent to which a building survives is a consideration when assessing it for listing. However, the present condition of the surviving fabric is not a factor when deciding whether it is of special architectural of historic interest.

Factor such as financial issues, proposed future use is not taken into account.

A building’s condition is only a factor if it has devalued the particular architectural or historic interest such that it is no longer ‘special’.

Download our guide for owners and occupiers of Scotland’s listed buildings [PDF, 1.9MB], available in English and Gaelic.