When you are applying for consent to alter a listed building, does it matter where it is situated?

The setting of the building is a consideration, but there is a more fundamental issue: the statistics suggest that consent is harder to obtain in some council areas than others.

Location, location, location?

Our research shows that owners of listed buildings are much more likely to get involved in an appeal if the building is in Edinburgh or Glasgow than in other parts of Scotland.

That is a concern because the appeal process can add four to six months, and increase the costs. For householders in particular, it can be an emotional strain.

Number of listed buildings

Is this high rate because there are more listed buildings in Edinburgh and Glasgow? No – the number of appeals is at least twice their share of the listed buildings in Scotland .

The lack of correlation is particularly noticeable for the Edinburgh council area.

In contrast, the number of appeals in the Fife Council area broadly correlates to its share of the listed buildings in Scotland.

This poses the question of why a listed building consent appeal is much more likely to be required in some council areas (Edinburgh and Glasgow) than others (eg. Fife).

Success rates

The obvious question is whether the councils in Edinburgh and Glasgow are taking too strict an approach to listed buildings, resulting in more refusals and consequently more appeals?

A high number of successful appeals would be evidence of too strict an approach, as that would show councils failing to defend their refusal to grant consent.

The statistics are equivocal. The Scotland-wide success rate is variable; in Edinburgh, the success rate was more constant; but in contrast, the Glasgow success rate jumped between 2019 and 2020.

Residential properties

Are there more appeals for listed residential properties/ householder development? Home improvements have always been popular. The competitive property market can be a factor in deciding to improve a house rather than try to move.

Most of the appeals in Edinburgh are for householder development. More than half were successful, whereas the success rates for non-residential listed buildings were much lower.

The picture is less clear in Glasgow, probably because the number of appeals is low – just two in 2020 .


The tentative conclusions are:

  • It's harder to get listed building consent in Edinburgh and Glasgow than in other parts of Scotland
  • The City of Edinburgh Council is taking an overly restrictive approach to listed building consent applications for householder developments – that is shown by both the high number of householder appeals in Edinburgh and the relatively high success rate for those appeals


This blog is based on quantative analysis of appeal decisions issued in 2019 and 2020. Comprehensive research would be required to confirm if there are similar trends in earlier years, and whether qualitative factors have any influence in the outcomes.