Following speculation over the sale of Abbey Road studios, the U.K. government has listed the building at Grade II, which gives it a protected status.

The 1830s villa at No. 3 Abbey Road in north London was given Grade II status based on the historic merit of the studios. The decision, based on advice from the body English Heritage, was confirmed today (Feb. 23) by culture minister Margaret Hodge.

EMI, which owns Abbey Road, announced on Sunday (Feb. 21) that it did not intend to sell the studios where the Beatles recorded the majority of its songs. The major said it is in talks with third parties about revitalizing the site, but did not reveal further details.

"It has huge cultural importance and a very special place in the hearts of recording artists and music lovers alike," said a government statement. "The new listing status will ensure that, although changes to the interior are not prohibited, care must be taken to ensure that any alterations with respect to its character and interest are fully considered.

"The Abbey Road Studios have been listed in acknowledgement of their outstanding cultural interest and to ensure that recording artists for generations to come can continue to make and record music in the same rooms as musical icons of years gone by."

Grade II listed status means that care will be taken over decisions affecting a building's future, and that the case for its preservation is taken fully into account in considering the merits of any redevelopment proposals.

"Music - of whichever genre - is the thread that follows us through all our lives and Abbey Road Studios have produced some of the very best music in the world," said Hodge in a statement. "It's a testament to both the importance of music in people's lives as well as the passion this kind of issue stirs up, that so much interest has been generated by the perceived threat to the future of Abbey Road."

An EMI spokesperson said: "We welcome the preservation order. It recognizes the unique cultural contribution that, together with the artists recording there, Abbey Road has made and continues to make."