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Listed Buildings


If you own a building which is listed or in a conservation area and wish to apply for consent to carry out work to it, this leaflet is to help you to do so. If you live in Wales or Scotland, the legislation is similar except that ultimate responsibility rests with the Secretaries of State.

What Is A Listed Building?

The list of buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest which merit special protection is drawn up by the Department and is in three grades - culture, media and sport I (2%), II* (4% ) and II (94%). In Scotland, the grades are A, B and C with comparable definitions.

All buildings erected before 1700 which survive in anything like their original form are listed, as are most buildings erected between 1700 and 1840, although some selection is applied. After about 1840, because many more buildings have survived, greater selection is made. Buildings less than 30 years old are normally listed only if they are of outstanding quality and under threat.

You can see a copy of the statutory list for your area free of charge at your District Council offices. Each entry has an address and description so that the listed building can be clearly identified. Listing protects the whole of the building inside and out. Even if something is not mentioned in the description therefore, it is still listed. In addition, protection also applies to attached and sometimes adjacent buildings if erected before lstJuly 1948.

When Is Listed Building Consent Required?

Listed building consent is quite separate from Planning Permission and is sometimes required even in situations where the latter is not required. Consent is necessary for any work to the inside or outside of a listed building which affects its "special interest".

As well as major changes, this usually includes relatively minor alterations such as stone cleaning, painting, re-thatching etc. Repairs carried out in matching materials, design and form, do not usually require consent.

If you have any doubt about whether a building is covered by the listing or whether consent is required for specific works, consult your District Council planning department before starting work. Many of them have conservation officers who specialise in this type of work.

Submitting An Application For Listed Building Consent

Local planning authorities must pay special regard to the issue of preserving a listed building, its setting and any features of special interest it may contain. Listing does not however seek to prevent all future change to the building and the prime objective is to protect the building from unsympathetic alterations.

To apply for listed building consent you need a special form, obtainable from your District Council planning department. Authorities will not normally accept a listed building consent application unless it is accompanied by the following information:

  • a plan with the building or site in question clearly marked
  • a brief description of the proposed works
  • detailed and clearly labelled "before and after" drawings to a suitable scale of all internal and external elevations affected by the proposal
  • a statement of the effect the proposal will have on the special architectural and historic interest of the building and its setting.

Responsibilities Of Owners Of Listed Buildings

Listed buildings are an important part of our national heritage. If you own one, you have a duty to keep it in reasonable repair. District Councils will normally advise you on specific problems which may arise. Carrying out work to a listed building without consent is a criminal offence and councils do have powers to enforce this although they normally only use them as a last resort.

In cases of deliberate neglect, councils have powers (including the use of the courts) to ensure that repairs are i carried out. If you are ever served with any formal notices or summonses in connection with a listed building which you own, you should take professional advice immediately.

What Is A Conservation Area?

Conservation areas were created by the Civic Amenities Act of 1967 and are "areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance".

They are designated by local authorities and unlike listed buildings, there are no national standards or grades. There are now well over 9,000 conservation areas in the country and all local authorities have at least one.

Although there is no statutory duty to do so, most local authorities keep available for public inspection a list of their conservation areas with accompanying maps at a scale at which individual buildings can be identified.

Trees In Conservation Areas

Subject to some exceptions (including small trees and ones that are dead or dangerous), trees are protected in conservation areas and are treated in a similar manner to those covered by a Tree Preservation Order. You must notify the council before carrying out any major work on trees in a conservation area.

Applying For Consent For Development In A Consercation Area

If your proposal involves demolition work, you will need a special form called "Conservation Area Consent". Otherwise development in conservation areas is dealt with through the normal planning application process.

The necessary forms for both are obtainable at your local planning department. If you are in doubt about whether demolition is involved, consult your l ,. local planning department.

Submitting The Application

Designating a conservation area does not prevent all future change to buildings and their surroundings. It means that fhe local planning authority when rnnsidering applications, including those which are outaide a conservation area but would affect its setting, must pay special regard to whether the proposed changes "preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the conservation area".

Authorities wilt often require more detail with applicaNons within and adjacent to conservation areas than with a normal planning applicaHon. Most applicaCions in:a rnnservation area should be accompanied by the following:

  • a plan with the application building or site clearly marked
  • a brief description of the proposed works
  • fully detailed and clearly labelled "before and after" drawings of all external elevations affected by the proposal, including its relationship to adjacent buildings
  • a landscaping scheme (if relevant)
  • in most cases, a statement of the effect of the proposal on the character and appearance of the conservation area.

Sources Of Information To Help In Preparing An Application

The current listed buildings and conservation area legislation is contained in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 and the practical interpretation of this is set out in Planning Policy Guidance Note 15, (PPGl5) entitled "Planning and the Historic Environment".

Most planning departments will have a copy which you can look at, but copies can be purchased from HMSO stockists.

Sections 3 and 6 of PPGlS are particularly relevant to the submission of applications for listed building consent and there is a useful annex giving detailed advice on alterations to listed buildings:

Section 4 deals with applications in conservation areas. PPGs are revised from time to time and if this happens, your local planning authority will have a revised copy

Photographs may be helpful when submitting your application. For all but the simplest listed building consent applications, the Institute recommends that professional advice is sought from someone who is both qualified and experienced in conservation work. For most applications in conservation areas, time and money may well be saved if professional advice is obtained. In both cases this is essential when major alterations, new development or demolition is involved. Most authorities have specialist officers who deaI with listed building and conservation issues who will be pleased to help you.

The Council's local plan or unitary development plan should set out all the policies involving listed buildings and conservation areas which are relevant for development control purposes. Local authorities should have publicly available an appraisal of the character and appearance of each of their conservation areas, although not all do. For all except the simplest applications, either you, or your professional adviser, should look at the relevant local plan policies and (if one exists) conservation area appraisal and take them into account when preparing your proposals. In addition, many authorities have adopted informal guidance which may be of help to you. This might inelude leaflets on minor alterations to listed buildings or work in conservation areas such as windows, roofing, extensions, external security. You should ask about this also.

How Long Does It Take?

Although both listed building,and conservation area applications have to be publicly advertised, in mostcases the process is completed within eight weeks, the same length of time that is allowed for a planning application. Major applications, particularly if they involve demolition, may take a little longer. Should your application be refused. by the local planning authority you may appeal against the decision to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions. The RTPI produces a separate leaflet on appeals which should be available at your District Council offices.

This pamphlet is one in a series being published by the Royal Town Planning Institute to help th epublic make better use of the planning system. If you would like more information on the role of the Institute or the work of town planners, including consultancy and planning aid services, please write to:

The RTPI, 26 Portland Place, London W1N 4BE. tel: 020 7636 9107
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