If you read our last blog post, you’ll know that listed buildings are considered a national importance and are therefore subject to more rigorous planning procedures. Listed building status can also apply to other structures such as gravestones, trees, and memorials. If you live in a listed building, it is important to remember that your property is only part of a much larger community. If your listed building is surrounded by other listed buildings – whether houses or other structures – your scope for manoeuvre will be much reduced. It is best to be open with your neighbours about any changes you are planning. Try to make the process easier for them too – they may be able to assist you later on if there any planning disputes! While these factors can prove an extra barrier for those considering listed building extensions, we have made this process a bit easier for you by summarising five key aspects you’ll need to consider first.
1. Integral features
There are certain features inside listed buildings, which might be considered integral to the property and so cannot be altered. Fireplaces are one example of these integral features. Generally, it is recommended that any alterations you make are reversible, this ensures that the original essence of the building will not be lost, and any changes will not permanently detract from the historic building. These do not need to stop you achieving your desired listed building extension, just make sure you are aware of any integral features when you are planning changes.
2. External surroundings
Don’t assume that the only thing listed is the building itself. As we explained in the last blog post, a variety of things can be classified as listed and these all affect the type of changes that can be made. Even trees or walls within your garden might be listed, and will therefore limit any changes that you can make.
3. Conservation Officers
Do you know who your local Conservation Officer is? Most local authorities employ a Conservation Officer who is able to offer advice in line with English Heritage recommendations. Your local Conservation officer will be able to advise you about the listed consent process and how to make your consent application for listed building extensions, alterations or even demolitions successful.
4. Special surveys and insurance
Have you checked to see if you need to undertake a special survey, or if you need specialist insurance cover? Building surveys are recommended for listed buildings, particularly those which you intend to renovate or extend. For listed buildings, it is best to use architects or surveyors accredited by a professional body, as they will explain any causes for concern. These surveys will reveal the materials used in the initial construction, as well as the current condition of the property. This information is crucial when you’re planning a listed building extension, as it suggests which materials to use in order to remain in keeping with the existing building. You might also want to consider specialist insurance cover. If your listed building does get damaged, you are legally obligated to restore your property to its original condition. Since listed buildings are considered of historical importance, and therefore require more careful repairs, this can also result in much higher repair costs for specific materials or contractors. Listed building insurance helps to protect you against these expensive repairs and ensures that you have the necessary cover should you need it.
5. English Heritage Website
Finally, if you are considering listed building extensions, alterations or any changes that might threaten the original condition of the building, the English Heritage website (www.english-heritage.org.uk) offers a range of useful information to help you through the process. English Heritage recently revealed that up to 90% of listed building extension or alterations are approved. The likelihood of your listed building applications being approved can be significantly improved by consulting your local Conservation Officer and planning authorities, as well as making use of available online resources such as English Heritage and Historic England.