If you’re considering making improvements to a listed building, you need to know what permissions and approvals are required before you start any work. Properties become listed buildings due to being of historic or architectural interest, as decided by local planning authorities or Historic England.
Planning permission is usually needed for new builds, for works that affect how the outside of a property looks and for material changes of use. When it comes to listed buildings, Listed Building Consent is also required (in addition to planning permission) for any works to alter, extend or demolish that property in such a way as to affect its character as a building of special interest. You might also need Listed Building Consent for works you’re planning regarding other separate buildings within the grounds of a listed property.
Initially it is worth checking with the Conservation Officer of your local authority whether you’ll need consent for the works you’re planning. They should also be able to advise on what might be acceptable and whether you might need to adapt some of your plans to increase your chances of getting the necessary consent. By doing this in the beginning stages you could save yourself a lot of wasted time and money.
Main Considerations for Work to Listed Buildings
The main consideration the local authority will take into account when deciding whether or not to grant consent is the desirability of preserving the building, its setting and the features that make it special. Focusing on this when you plan your improvements can make it more likely that they’ll look favourably on your application.
You can get an application form from your local authority’s website or in paper form. The government Planning Portal website gives guidance on how to apply. Unfortunately Conservation Officers tend to be very busy and it can take a while for them to get to your application once it is submitted. Local authorities usually aim to return a decision on smaller projects within a couple of months, but larger ones can take up to thirteen weeks. This will include a statutory 21 day consultation period during which any relevant parties, such as neighbours and local amenity societies, are consulted.
Applications involving Grade I or Grade II* listed buildings, demolition or especially complicated works will also be forwarded to English Heritage for their advice. In this case you’ll need to know exactly what the background and history of the building is in order to make your case.
For this reason some people opt to do the work anyway and hope it isn’t discovered. However failure to get the necessary consent is considered a criminal offence, so it’s important to make sure you know what is required. Selling a listed building that has had work done without grant of Listed Building Consent will also prove very difficult.
If all this sounds a bit overwhelming to you, but you would like to go ahead with the improvement works you’re planning, why not let MSK Design help? We have a good understanding of local and national planning policies and how to navigate the process of getting Listed Building Consent. Find out more about the planning services we offer on our website or give us a call to discuss your plans.