It is very common for homeowners and homebuyers to have ideas of doing alterations to their Listed Building.

There are no Permitted Development Rights for Listed Buildings.   Therefore any alteration to the Listed Building, whether externally, internally or within the grounds, will require prior Listed Building Consent.  Any new ideas for the grounds will require Planning Permission.   The Listing applies to the whole building, and all outbuildings pre-dating 1948.  It is not true that it only applies to the front elevation or only the parts that are mentioned in the Listing description.   Historic England offers an ‘Enhanced Listing’ service whereby, for a fee, they will review the List description to provide greater clarity on the significance of the heritage asset.   This can be very useful, especially on larger and higher status buildings.

An application for Listed Building Consent will need to consider whether the proposals might impact on the historic interest in the Listed Building.   The proposal will require justification and will need to demonstrate other options that had been considered and the impact on the Listed Building.   The impact can be positive as well as negative.   For example, while the proposal might require a physical alteration to the building it might be justifiable that in doing so creates benefits.   This discussion is contained in the Heritage Statement, which is a written document submitted within the application.

Alterations to the Listed Building require prior Listed Building Consent.   This might be for ideas such as an extension, removal of a previous alteration, taking walls out or adding new walls in, replacing windows, insertion of ensuite bathrooms, alterations to garden walls and gates, a new roof, large amounts of repointing or rendering.  There are many other alterations that might be requested.

Planning Permission would be required for proposals such as a garage, stables, field shelters, sheds and greenhouses and new driveways, large landscaping schemes and electric gates.   There are many other proposals that might require Planning Permission.

General routine repairs do not require prior Consent.   This might include, for example, redecorating, wet rot in an item of joinery, small amounts of roof repairs, small amounts of repointing and rendering and other such basic items of maintenance.   Repairs done on a like-for-like basis using traditional materials are preferred.   The use of modern materials such as cement mortars, gypsum plaster, non-breathable insulation products and modern masonry paints are rarely acceptable.

There is no actual list of what you can or can’t do.  Each Listed Building is considered on an individual basis.   Just because something might be acceptable on one building does not imply that it will be acceptable on all buildings.

You should always seek a Pre-Application discussion with the local Conservation Officer before you submit your application for Listed Building Consent.  They may charge a nominal fee, which might typically be about £200-£250, and this is highly advised and can save considerable wasted time.

If you have multiple ideas to seek Consent for, isolate those out which might be controversial and less likely to gain Consent.   You can group easy things together into one application.   You would not want Consent to be refused because of a controversial items that was included with easy things.  Adopt a strategic approach to your application.

In any Listed Building, highly controversial alterations would be related to the removal of fireplaces, fire surrounds, staircases, floors. floorboards and skirtings, external chimneys, historic plasterwork and any historic architectural features, replacing historic doors and windows which are repairable, installation of double-glazing, change of material of roofing, thatching or rainwater goods and other such changes that would impact on the historic interest in the Listed Building.    There are many other examples that might be added to this list – it is not exhaustive.

It is true to say that this whole subject is fraught with differences of opinion and contradictions.   This doesn’t help anyone  know for sure whether an application might be acceptable or not.   It is a very subjective topic.   Always seek specialist advice from a skilled Conservation advisor before you do anything to your Listed Building.

It is a Criminal Office to carry out an Unauthorised Alteration to a Listed Building.   The owner of the Listed Building has responsibility for it – even for alterations done by others prior to the purchase.  It is important that prior to purchase all alterations can be proved to have Listed Building Consent and that there are no matters outstanding.   Any Conditions associated with the Consent will need to be proved to have been Discharged.   These Conditions might typically be for the provision of samples to be agreed by the Local Planning Authority before works take place.   When a Listed Building Consent is Granted, the works are usually expected to start within a specified time period, typically three years, or the Consent will lapse and need to be submitted again.

Demolition of a Listed Building would be wholly exceptional and extremely unlikely to be able to gain Consent.   There would need to be clear and convincing justification for an application for demolition and the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) is very clear on this matter.  The deteriorated state of a Listed Building is not a relevant factor and cannot be used as a justification for demolition.

In cases of uncertainty, you can submit an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness of Proposed Works to a Listed Building.   This will either confirm that an idea does not require Listed Building Consent or it will confirm that it does – in which case you will know for sure that you need to submit your application.