There are over 370,000 listed properties in the UK, most of which are of either architectural, historical, or cultural interest. Most people would agree that these buildings need to be protected in order to safeguard this important part of our heritage. All buildings built before 1700 which survive in close to their original condition are listed, along with most of those built between 1700 and 1840. Post-1945 buildings have to be exceptional to be listed.
About 8% of all listed buildings are Grade 1, which is reserved for buildings of exceptional interest. The remainder are Grade 2 – special interest. Both are subject to stricter regulations on planning and alteration than usual.
English Heritage administers the listing system. Its role is to prevent the destruction of our architectural heritage and ensure that any modifications, repairs, improvements or extensions are conducted in a way that respects the history of an important building and even offers grants to people wishing to undertake urgent repairs or major renovations.
Ownership of such a building is a privilege, but with this comes responsibility. One that could even, technically, put you in prison if you get it wrong! So if you own, or are thinking of buying a property that might be subject to listed building status you need to check your obligations. These can affect detail such as painting brickwork, installing roof lights, aerials and alarms; moving internal doorways, fireplaces, stairs or panelling. All of these will require special permission if your property is listed and you could be forced to rectify any works done without permission – even by a previous owner.
The local council can advise on how to get Listed Building Consent (LBC), which is similar to planning permission. Generally, the people involved in the process are likely to be highly supportive of a considerate application.
If you are considering any alterations to a listed building and would like to know what effect these could have on resale value, please feel free to contact your local branch to discuss this further.
Neil Newstead, FARLA MNAEA
CEO – Oakfield Estate Agents