What Is Listed Building Consent & Do I Need It?

You may need listed building consent for any changes you want to make to your listed property.
What Is Listed Building Consent & Do I Need It?

Does My House Need Listed Building Consent?

Heritage and conservation expert, Anske Bax, explains everything you need to know about listed building consent

Listed buildings are structures with architectural and or historic interest that are protected under planning legislation. Historic England estimates there are about 500,000 protected buildings and structures in England. If your property was built before 1850, it’s very likely listed.

Heritage Consultant Anske Bax has gained listed building consent for a wide variety of schemes to make changes to Grade I, Grade II*, and Grade II listed buildings over the years. Below he answers some common questions about listed building consent.

What Is Listed Building Consent?

It’s the mechanism through which planning authorities protect listed structures. To ensure that any changes to listed buildings respect their historic fabric and character, planning authorities require owners to apply for listed building consent. 

You can submit the application online on your Local Planning Authority’s (LPA) website. To apply, you will need to submit documents such as a Heritage Statement, a Design and Access Statement, and an ownership certificate. In some cases, these can be combined.

It’s crucial you hire a specialist who can evaluate the unique heritage constraints and merits of your case. They will be able to prepare an application that’s more likely to be approved.

If you plan to expand or renovate your listed building or build a new outbuilding on-site, you may also need to apply for planning permission.

What If My Property Is In A Conservation Area? 

Within a conservation area, permitted development rights do not apply, so we recommend hiring a heritage specialist for your project.

If you live or own a structure in a conservation area, a Conservation Officer will be assigned to your application. They will ensure the scheme you submit protects the context and the environment, as well as the building. 

What If My Home Is In A Green Belt?

If your home is in a Green Belt, you will need to apply for planning permission if you want to add an extension or replace an existing dwelling. That’s because, within a Green Belt, permitted development rights don’t apply.

How Long Does It Take To Obtain Listed Building Consent?

The LPA usually takes eight weeks to make a decision, although complex cases, where Historic England is involved, can take longer. 

If the authority rejects your application, they will likely provide feedback. Sometimes, amending the proposals to incorporate the comments can lead to a successful re-application. 

Do I Need Listed Building Consent?

If you plan to extend, alter, or repair a listed building you need to obtain listed building consent before you start the works. 

How Do I Check If My Home Is Listed?

Check the official register, the National Heritage List for England (NHLE), on the Historic England website. You can also ask your LPA for local listings and planning maps.

A listing typically covers the building, any annexes on the property, the garden, the boundary walls, and fixtures. You need to apply for consent for any permanent alterations within the boundary of the listed building because of their potential impact on the setting. 

Your listing also specifies a grade of protection. Listed buildings are categorised into three grades:

  • Grade I - these are rare structures of exceptional international architectural and historic importance, like Buckingham Palace. Only about 2.5% of listed buildings are Grade I.

  • Grade II* - these are buildings with national and regional architectural and historic significance. They make up around 6% of all listed buildings.

  • Grade II - these have regional importance and represent roughly 92% of all listed buildings. Residential homes are usually Grade II.

There are also locally listed buildings, which have local and regional importance. These include non-designated heritage assets (NDHA). The rules around listed building consent apply to these, too.

What Happens If I Don’t Apply For Listed Building Consent?

Making changes to a listed building without consent is a criminal offence. You risk a fine of up to £20,000 and, or up to six months imprisonment. Moreover, the local authority may serve an enforcement notice to rectify unauthorised works.

What Work Can I Carry Out Without Listed Building Consent?

At James Clague Architects, we advise you to consult our team before carrying out any work. It’s easy to overlook how important certain elements are to a historic building’s character and fabric. A specialist can assess if it’s legal to carry out the work without consent. 

You will likely be able to skip applying for planning consent for works such as: 

  • Regular maintenance carried out with like-for-like in design, material and finish, like repainting windows and soffits.
  • Emergency works, such as roof repairs and broken windows or doors, if you have clear and convincing justification and evidence the works were necessary.
  • Replacing modern fixtures and fittings without altering any of the building’s structural elements and fabric. For example, updating a kitchen or bathroom installed after the 1980s.

Make sure you seek advice from a specialist before you start any work, including maintenance. 

What Work Requires Listed Building Consent?

You need to apply for listed building consent for any alterations that affect a listed building’s character and fabric.

These include:

  • Demolition and change of use of the building
  • External redecoration, such as window, wall and gutter repairs
  • Internal layout changes, like moving a bathroom
  • Interior redecoration - such as wall panelling and repainting, flooring, tiling, and lighting 
  • Replacing doors
  • Altering or replacing kitchen and bathroom historic fittings
  • Changing the fireplace
  • Converting the loft
  • Upgrading or installing heating, electrical wiring or plumbing
  • Installing new insulation
  • Adding an extension
  • Building sheds or annexes within the setting
  • Alterations and amendments to ancillary outbuildings, like a garage
  • Any alterations to the exterior, including gates, boundary walls and gardens
  • Cleaning of external masonry; it can cause erosion
  • Roof repairs
  • Installation of solar panels and solar arrays.

If the works alter the exterior of the building, you also need to apply for planning consent.

Examples Of Work You Can Do With Listed Building Consent

You will likely gain listed building consent for minor alterations that don’t affect the building’s character. 

Below are some examples:

  • Installation of a porch
  • Gates, fences or boundary treatments
  • Erection of a garage or outbuilding of a similar material to the original building
  • Addition of solar panel arrays to the roof
  • Small-scale internal layout changes
  • Building a sympathetic single-storey extension.

Your application will need to provide one or more valid reasons why you wish to make the changes.

It’s best to hire an experienced listed building specialist, who can submit a carefully crafted Planning Statement and detailed Heritage Statement. This will improve your chances of success.

What Are The Restrictions For Listed Buildings?

The LPA will reject any alterations that affect the building’s historic fabric and character. For example, it’s unlikely you will get permission for works such as removing or altering historic fittings like fireplaces, boundary walls and gates. Adding alarm boxes to the front of the property is also not allowed. 

The limitations are set on a case-by-case basis, as historic buildings and their setting are unique. For example, a listed Georgian home located in a town will be subject to fewer restrictions than a listed cottage in a conservation area.

Always check with your local authority regarding conservation area restrictions, including the removal of article 4. An article 4 direction is a special planning regulation used by an LPA to remove certain development rights. 

At James Clague Architects, we know if it’s possible and how to work around these restrictions to help our clients obtain listed building consent.

For example, at The Chestnuts, in West Malling, Kent, we were able to work around conservation area restrictions to install a ped gate. As the boundary walls couldn’t be altered, we redesigned the existing main gate to incorporate a ped gate. We also removed a wall between the kitchen and sitting room to produce an open-plan kitchen diner.

At Minor Canon Row, a Grade I Listed Building in Rochester, we achieved planning and listed building consent to remove an external wall/railing to allow for open-plan living.

At Henden Place, in Woodchurch, we successfully obtained consent to build a swimming pool and pool house within the immediate setting of a Grade II* listed house.

At St Radigund’s, in Alkham, we recently gained a positive pre-app response for the extension to a Grade II* farmhouse within the setting of a scheduled monument. 

What Do I Do If I Want To Alter A Listed Building?

No matter the grade of your building and the kind of alteration or repairs you wish to make, it’s best to talk to a specialist to check what consents you need and if it’s possible to carry them out at all. 

Look for an architecture firm with extensive experience with listed buildings and established relationships with specialist contractors.

At James Clague Architects, we take care of the whole process - from the initial survey and consent application to ensuring the appointed builders follow any specifications and schedule of repairs for historic fabric detailed in the plan. We work with specialist contractors who have successfully altered listed buildings across the South East.

Our Heritage Consultant Anske is based at the James Clague offices in Canterbury and Tunbridge Wells, covering Kent, Sussex, Surrey, and the South East. Book an initial consultation with Anske here or call 01227 649073. 

If you have more doubts about listed building consent, you can read Historic England Advice Note 16, which explains the process in more detail.

Need some advice or help with a project?

We offer a free consultation to help assess what you're trying to achieve, how we can help and explain the process.

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