Listing, Grade l, Grade ll and Grade ll* marks and celebrates a building’s special architectural and historic interest. Listing is not a preservation order, preventing change. Listed buildings can be altered, extended or even demolished. However, such changes cannot be done without permission. Changes require that you enter into the Local Authority planning approval system, but with an additional layer of administration, the conservation department.
Owning a listed building brings with it a level of responsibility. You are expected to keep the building in good order for future generations.
So here is the challenge. Your listed property is most likely your home, or at the very least a significant investment. You want to keep it in good order and you want it to be safe warm and comfortable. Yet at each stage you must be aware that you cannot simply change things without the approval of the conservation officer. All too often people make changes regardless but the consequence can be serious. Prosecution can follow, or the requirement to restore back to the original any changes made. As this can often be a challenge to listed property owners, here are some key things to consider:
- Much of the Conservation officers’ work is based on judgment. It is a perception of what will look right rather than very specific rules, and an underlying theme is to seek the use of original materials as much as possible. Often this results in significant costs over and above what people really want to commit to. Historic materials themselves can be more expensive, and often the tradespeople able to work them will be limited, highly in demand and relatively expensive in their charge out rates.
- In cities such as Bath and Bristol, which have extensive listed properties, getting the conservation officer to attend and consider your proposal can often be lengthy. Their caseload is heavy and you will have to wait your turn, but such delays do not allow you to circumvent the process. So, if your roof is starting to leak, factor in the conservation element into the overall timescale.
- Don’t presume that listing of a property is simply limited to the ‘visual’ elements of a building. Listing covers the whole building, inside and out and its curtilage, so the grounds, surrounding walls out houses etc.
- Listing brings a whole different dimension to living in and maintaining a property. It requires greater planning, probably greater cost and generally a need to engage more fully in the life of the building.
Good property managers such as PM Property Management will be familiar with the challenges listed building status brings. Often they will also be familiar with the conservation and planning staff, as they are dealing with cases frequently, and will also have the right contacts to bring advice and help in the preparation of planning applications and arguments to justify plans.
For more information on how we can help give us a call to discuss your specific circumstances.