Protections for listed buildings

Andrew Nicholson

Andrew Nicholson recently wrote this article which appeared in the East Anglian Daily Times on 2nd August 2014.

English Heritage indicate that there are now more than 374,000 listed buildings and many owners of these buildings will be well aware of the responsibilities which attach to their ownership.

Reform of the listed building regime has been on the agenda since 2009 and a number of amendments to the existing legislation finally came into being on 6th April 2014 under the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (the 2013 Act).

In this article I intend to focus on nationally listed buildings which must have either special architectural or historic interest. However, it should be borne in mind that Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) also maintain lists of heritage assets which, by their special nature, are considered by an LPA when it comes to deal with a planning application involving such a building.

A list entry for a building will show the address of the Property, the grade of the listing and a brief description of the building. It should be noted that it is not just the listed features of a building which are protected, but also all other parts of the listed building. Similarly, many buildings and objects which are within the curtilage of a listed building will be caught, even though they may be physically separate from the main building. A helpful development under the 2013 Act is that an owner of a listed building is now able to apply for specified parts of a listed building to be shown on the list as not being subject to the listing regime.

Applying to change a listed building can often be a lengthy and challenging process, but the 2013 Act aims to reduce the red tape associated with obtaining the necessary authorisation by introducing three ways of doing so. Firstly, there is a listed building consent order which may impose conditions, but which is expected to reduce the number of applications for works of a minor nature. Secondly, a local listed building consent order deals with the blanket grant by an LPA for particular types of alteration to a particular type of listed building in a specified area. Finally, there is a heritage partnership agreement which will be between an LPA and a building owner, but may also involve the tenant and other parties. This type of agreement should be short and simple, specifying the works which are to be carried out, how they will be done and how long the agreement is to remain in place.

It will be advisable for owners of listed buildings to ensure that the procedures laid down in the 2013 Act are correctly followed as enforcement action by an LPA for breach of Listed Building Control never becomes time barred.