If you’ve been dreaming of renovating your home, you’ve probably put more effort into your dream design than you have into gritty details like planning regulations. Often cursed but absolutely necessary in order to protect the character of this nation, planning guidelines are a truly necessary evil. For over 300,000 households though, there’s another problem to contend with – listed building consent. But what is listed building consent, and how does it affect your chances of renovating your home?
The listed building scheme was first introduced under the terms of the National Heritage Act 1983, which stated that a body would be set up in order to protect the ancient, important and rare buildings of England, and since then it’s listed 374,081 buildings under the three grading tiers. This includes castles, radar stations, stone outcrops and even bridges, but most of all it includes many houses which are currently inhabited. The three tiers are as follows:
– Grade 1: Buildings of exceptional interest, potentially internationally important. Only 2.5% of listed buildings fall under this category.
– Grade 2*: Buildings of particular importance, and of general interest. 5.5% of listed buildings make up this category
– Grade 2: Buildings of national importance and special interest. 92% of listed buildings fall under this category.
Depending on which tier your property falls under, you’ll have a different chance of attaining planning permission. Grade 2 is the easiest to attain planning permission for, whilst grade 1 is the most difficult, requiring extreme care and respect whilst undergoing repairs. Easy is a relative term though, because English Heritage are very strict when it comes to changes to their listed buildings. Fitting a satellite TV dish or fitting uPVC windows in favour of wood casement windows will likely see your planning permission denied.
Actually applying for listed building consent isn’t all that difficult. It’s administered through your local authority and you can get advice through the online Planning Portal website. Local authorities aim to return a decision on small changes within eight weeks and tries to decide on larger proposals within thirteen weeks, both of which include a 21 day statutory consultation period.
Getting planning permission can be quite difficult, but there are things you can do to help your application. The English Heritage website states “When a Council considers whether to grant or to refuse an application it must have special regard to the desirability of preserving the building, its setting and those features which make it special. Therefore consideration should also be given to these things when planning proposed changes.” In real terms, that means choosing wood casement windows over plastic alternatives and keeping the facia or any distinguishing characteristics in tact rather than demolishing them.
Remember, English Heritage are tasked with ensuring that the historic buildings of England are kept in a condition which means they can be enjoyed well into the future. As the owner of a historic property, it’s also your duty also to ensure that the property is restored tastefully, and your planning requests must show that.