for People with a Passion for Period Property

Listed Buildings

What is a 'listed building'?
If a building is listed if it is considered to be of merit, either due to their architecture or because or their historical value. Its all about providing legal protection for the building against works on it which may be to its detriment. This may be either physically or aesthetically. Buildings are listed so that the heritage invested in historic buildings is preserved for future generations.

What listing categories are there?
In England and Wales there are three grades of listing. These are I, II* and II. Grade II is the most common, accounting for about 94% of all listed buildings, and is for buildings of 'special interest'. Grade II* is for buildings of 'particular importance' whilst Grade I, the most stringent, is granted for buildings of 'exceptional interest'.

What does owning a listed building mean in terms of responsibilities?
If you own a listed building then you take on the responsibility of looking after that property for the benefit of yourselves, others and indeed, future generations. You should also be aware of the legal liabilities, such as the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. It is this act which requires owners to seek permission before any work is undertaken on a listed building. However this does not mean that no work can ever be done, rather it is to ensure that works are done in a sympathetic manner and to ensure that the nation's heritage is preserved.

What does a listing apply to?
For all grades, their listing applies to the whole building, both interior and exterior. It also relates to any objects and structures fixed to the building within the curtailage of the building.

Curtailage - what does that mean?
The curtailage is interpreted as 'the ground which is used for the comfortable enjoyment of a house or other building'. This means that buildings, walls within proximity of a listed building may require listed building consent before alterations are permitted. The Planning Authority ought to be consulted before any alterations are performed.

What is the List Description ?
The List Description should list the buildings covered by the listing, however it is often inaccurate and has no legal bearing. Hence the listing may actually affect structures not mentioned on the list.

What is a conservation area ?
A "Conservation Area" is where an area has been deemed to be of special architectural or historical interest. Conservation Area consent must be obtained before any work that might affect it is undertaken. However, a Conservation Area is only interested in the external appearance. This differs from a listed property where both the internal and external aspects of the building is protected.

What works are subject to listed building consent ?
In essence, any work which is NOT "like-for-like" maintenance would normally require consent. Even renewing a component, such as a window, may require consent even if the appearance is identical. This is because the replacement may be of a different fabric to the original. Some modern materials are incompatible with historical fabrics and hence their use could be detrimental to the listed building. Whilst there are no strict guidelines under the Planning Act, the government publishes Planning Policy Guidance notes and PPG15 gives further explanation.

How do I obtain listed building consent ?
The local Planning Department may have their own Conservation Officer who deals with applications. Ideally you should talk with them first, prior to submitting a formal application as they may well give an early indication as to whether your proposal is likely to be acceptable. Assuming it is acceptable then you will then have to submit an application using the appropriate forms. There's no fee payable on application for listed building consent. The application should include an ordinance survey extract plan and be supported with, where relevant, drawings and/or photographs which outline the proposed work.

How does listed building consent relate to Planning Permission ?
Planning Permission applies regardless of whether the building is listed or not. So, if you're thinking of an extension to your listed property then both Listed Building Consent and Planning Permission are required before alterations can start. However, for works that are purely internal then only Listed Building Consent would be needed.

What happens if my application is refused ? Can I appeal ?
If your application for planning permission or listed building consent is refused you can appeal to the Secretary of State for the Environment. This may lead to a public enquiry to consider the proposal. An inspection of the property would be made by the Secretary of State's Inspector. The appeal would be determined taking written representations into consideration. An appeal can be a drawn out process and you should seek proper advice from an appropriate professional before embarking down this path.

What would happen if I proceeded with work without planning permission or listed building consent ?
The council is required to serve an Enforcement Notice in cases where works have proceeded without authorisation. This is serious action and usually requires the reinstatement of the building, where possible, to its previous condition. Conservation Officers have the power to halt on-going works and if reinstatement is not possible, then criminal prosecutions can ensue. On conviction, the courts have the power to levy fines and in severe cases they can order imprisonment.

What if I moved into a listed property where unauthorised work has been carried out ?
The change of ownership of a building is of no consequence regarding a contravention of the Planning Act. The owner of the listed property will be held responsible for correcting any unauthorised works. Hence it is prudent for a potential purchaser of a listed building to enquire with the Local Authority as to whether any unauthorised work has been carried out. You should always check that consent has been granted for any alterations previously made.

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