listed buildings

Staying within the law, when resorting or working on a listed building

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Making the list: what it means when your property is “listed”

What does it mean when a building is “listed”? The term is quite literal, it is a building that has been added to a National Heritage list for special architectural or historical interest. If you’re not living or running a business from a listed building, you’re probably living within a mile of one - as 99.3% of the English population are. Although there are around 556,000 entries, the exact number is unknown as multiple units such as terraced houses are one entry.

Why do we “list” buildings?

The practice of listing buildings emerged as a legal system to protect the most important buildings during the second world war. It marks and celebrates our heritage, preserving it for future generations. By the Town and Country Planning Act (1990), the definition of a ‘building’ is very wide, it essentially encompasses any manmade structure; including anything from bridges to war memorials.

What is the criteria to become listed?

Buildings are selected due to a range of factors; Historic England has its own strategic criteria, but the most significant factor is age.

As a general rule, buildings constructed before 1700 are listed but for buildings constructed closer to 1850, making the list is a more selective process.

After 1850, buildings generally need to demonstrate some form of other value such as being the work of a particular architect, possessing a notable feature or technological advances. Association with a famous person or event can also grant listed status. Only 770 of listed buildings are made up of post war buildings with just one from the 1990s.

How does a building become listed?

The way buildings become listed has changed significantly since the war; often it used to be done without internal inspection.  Now owners are notified and consulted, and a site visit needs to be done to find out as much about the historical development and interest, architectural quality, internal features, degree of survival and relationship with other buildings.

Anyone can nominate a building to be listed but administration is down to government agencies. Generally, the whole building is listed but it can include garden walls, outbuildings and even statues.

Usually the list includes the address, date first listed, grade, map reference and a brief description when more recent listings have detailed descriptions of the buildings’ significance.

Making the grade – what do the classifications mean?

The grade of a listed property is down to its importance, the majority of listed buildings you’ve likely come across will be grade II as 92% of listed buildings are this category. Grade II* make up 5% and these are more than special interest features and then Grade I make up those of exceptional interest (only 2.5% of listed buildings).

What are the implications of a building being listed?

Listed buildings can be enjoyed and used like any other building, there is just extra control surrounding what can be done to the interior and exterior – it should not be altered, extended or demolished without special permission from the planning authority.

This does not mean there is any kind of preservation order preventing change altogether and the building is not frozen in time. It just means Listed Building Consent must be given before proceeding with these modifications.

Unfortunately, obtaining listed building consent can be quite a drawn-out procedure - Olympic Construction can help, it’s an offence to carry out works without consent. Penalties can include fines or even imprisonment, so it’s worth checking. (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.

In some circumstances, property owners are compelled to repair and maintain listed buildings and can face criminal prosecution if they fail to do so, with the potential for authorities to acquire it.  ‘Repairs Notice’ under Section 48 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act, 1990. You sometimes can get grants or loans to help with your repairs or maintenance.

What part of the building is listed?

When a building is listed, it is listed in its entirety, which means that both the exterior and the interior are protected. In addition, any object or structure fixed to the building, and any object or structure within the curtilage of the building, which although not fixed to the building, forms part of the land and has done so since before 1 July 1948, are treated as part of the listed building.

Restoring Listed buildings

Due to all the regulation around Listed Buildings, it’s important you get a surveyor who will work with both you and the local conservation officer to get the best result for all parties. A balance needs to be struck between conserving a property and restoring it to the standards we want to live in.

Traditional building structures are often quite different, therefore it’s essential the surveyor understands the original building systems such as lime-based plaster, pointing and the structure.

Olympic Construction have an extensive knowledge of traditional properties and our stone masons are registered with English Heritage. If you have any questions, get in touch.

Listed building consent

Listed building control is a type of planning control, which protects buildings of special architectural or historical interest. These controls are in addition to any planning regulations which would normally apply. Listed building status can also result in the requirement for planning permission where it wouldn’t ordinarily be required - for example, the erection of means of enclosure.

This special form of control is intended to prevent the unrestricted demolition, alteration or extension of a listed building without the express consent of the local planning authority or the Secretary of State.

The controls apply to any works for the demolition of a listed building, or for its alteration or extension, which is likely to affect its character as a building of special architectural or historical interest.

The control does not depend upon whether the proposed activity constitutes development under Section 55 of the 1990 Act. It extends to any works for the demolition of a listed building or for its alteration or extension in any manner likely to affect its character as a building of special architectural or historical interest.

Section 7 of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (LBCA Act) provides that, subject to the following provisions of the Act, no person shall execute or cause to be executed any works for the demolition of a listed building or for its alteration or extension in any manner which would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest, unless the works are authorised. (Section 9 of the 1990 Act provides that if a person contravenes Section 7 he/she shall be guilty of an offence.)

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