Listed buildings are a snippet of history nestled into our modern world. They have a certain allure – telling the stories of hundreds (and maybe even thousands) of the people who walked through their doors. When it comes to renovating and upgrading one, there are often strict building regulations to consider. While these primarily work to maintain the beauty of the buildings and the structural choices that were originally made, they can make the installation of modern modifications trickly.


For some, changing the working of a listed building feels like sacrilege. Some feel these buildings should be allowed to stand in their true form and be used for their original purpose. And on the other side, others see the true beauty in renovating these buildings. When you choose this route, you give new life and meaning to a building. You bring to life the story of its creation, celebrating the unique construction methods that aren’t used today and the markings that stand out from the crowd.

Turning a listed building into a retail premise, an office or even a home means you need to consider the comfort of everyone inside. Beauty is only one factor. The building has to work with your everyday activities and needs. You also need to consider comfort and safety. There are legal requirements in place to protect people at work. For example, the Approved Code of Practice states that a workplace should have a minimum normal temperature of at least 16°C. This is consistent for winter and summer alike. The TUC states that 30°C is the maximum a working environment should be, and this drops to 27°C during times of strenuous work.

The same goes for your home. You want to be able to spend time in every room, ungoverned by the temperature outside or the way in which your traditional walls hold heat. Air conditioning allows you the freedom to better control the ambient environment while still basking in the aesthetics that you originally fell in love with.


To install a modern air conditioning unit, you generally need to drill holes in the walls. Many models have internal and external units that need to work together, meaning you inhibit the external look of a building. Building Regulations normally heavily dictate the need to keep the building as historically accurate as possible. You also need to consider the materials and structure of the original building.

Most specifications call for any new construction work to make use of materials that are as accurate and close to the original ones. To fit an air conditioning unit, there may be a need to make holes or damage to existing walls, meaning you’ll need to source exacting materials and have them applied by skilled hands. Any complications with the building’s structure will also get you in serious trouble from the authorities – especially if this hasn’t been approved in advance.

So, what can you do?


In general and in modern buildings, no planning permission is needed to install an air conditioning unit. However, this differs entirely when we move to listed buildings. You must apply for full planning permission to install, replace or modern an air conditioning unit or equipment from any part of the building. Alongside this, you will also need to apply for Listed Building Consent if the work will alter the character of a building. These applications are made to the local authority who may consult Historic England and the National Amenity Societies for certain applications.


To avoid altering the external look of a property, opt for a water-cooled internal condenser air conditioner. These models feature an internal condenser that connects to a slim wall-mounted cooling unit that can be fitted in the room. The condenser itself is generally so compact, that it can be hidden in a cupboard or behind storage units – further reducing the impact on the aesthetics of a building.

Having a unit that runs and operated entirely from the inside is a huge benefit for listed building owners. It takes away the need to make large and gaping holes in the structure of the walls. And eliminates the unsightly external condenser that usually sits on an outside wall or roof. Equally, wall-cooled air conditioning systems are fitted with DC inverters. These use the minimum amount of energy to cool the air around it and help to maintain these temperatures, without draining your electrical resources or increasing your carbon footprint significantly.


It also pays, when choosing whether or not to fit a unit in your listed building, to consider other benefits. Not only do these machines bring down the temperature to make it more comfortable to be in. They also help to reduce humidity. High levels of moisture in the air can increase the risk of mould and mildew which, when linked to traditional building materials, can result in significant damage. Ventilation is vital for all buildings – no least for traditional and historical ones. Therefore, having an air conditioning unit to have may help preserve the structure for longer by reducing humidity.


At Controlled Climate, we have over 25 years of experience in the supply of air conditioners and heat pump systems. During this time, we’ve worked with clients with a range of specifications. This includes those looking to create the most beautiful homes and working environments within listed buildings. Our experience is one entirely tailored to your needs. We step into your building, examining your specific needs and coming up with systems that work best for everyone involved. If you’re in the process of gaining planning permission, we can also help advise on solutions that have the least impact on the aesthetics of the property.

If you are in the process of renovating a listed building or would like to speak to us about the possibilities, please do get in contact with us here today.