GUIDE TO LISTED BUILDING CONSENT
If you are considering making alterations to your listed house, then this informative guide will provide a useful place to start your journey. It is based on our experience of working as architects on conservation projects involving listed residential buildings in and around Bath, including Somerset, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and further afield.
Clients will usually approach us knowing that their house (or the house they are about to purchase) is listed, and at what grade. In the first instance, it is helpful to have a discussion about what is covered by the listing. The description that Historic England holds often doesn’t contain a full account of the house, only dealing with the outside, and sometimes only the front. This resulted from many buildings (particularly in the 1980s) being listed using the ‘drive-by’ method. However, the legal protection afforded by the listing typically relates to the whole property, including its curtilage. This will likely cover inside and outside the house, any outbuildings, walls and other structures, together with landscape features. Internally, features such as staircases, doors, fireplaces, mouldings, floorboards and plasterwork are all likely to be protected.
LISTED BUILDING CONSENT
Listed building consent is therefore required not just for extensions, but also for most refurbishment or renovation work, the conversion of outbuildings, and alterations to the garden. Generally it will be submitted in tandem with a planning application, although there are some cases where just a listed building consent application is required.
Once appointed as your architect, we will analyse the building to gain an understanding of its form, fabric, details, and the way that it has evolved over time. We will consider how your brief can best be achieved within the sensitive context of the historic building.
It is often the case that listed buildings have been modified in ways that are not sympathetic, particularly where work has taken place in the last seventy years or so. This may include for example the addition of a poorly constructed or badly designed extension, the inclusion of sand-cement mortar pointing, or the installation of plastic windows. Rectifying such things will invariably improve not just the building's visual appeal, but also its performance.
The aim will be to upgrade any aspects of the house which are having a detrimental impact and to ensure that any interventions have a positive impact, or that at least any negative impact is minimised. Internal works should adopt the principle of reversibility where possible, so that the area in question can be readily returned to its previous state at a later date.
We encourage our clients to consider sustainability issues when extending or refurbishing their home. It is encouraging that Conservation Officers are beginning to take on the need to include sustainability measures within listed buildings. We have, for example, specified double glazed windows in a number of grade II listed houses over the last decade or so.
A Heritage Statement will be produced that will outline the significance of the house. This significance may be archaeological, architectural or historic. It may relate to the physical presence of the house or its setting. The documents will be compiled following an assessment of the fabric together with reference to historic records such as maps, photographs and deeds. The goal will be to conserve the significance of the house wherever possible. The statement will therefore also include a section dealing with the impact of each of the proposals, whether positive or negative. Generally, the higher the grade of listing, the more information will be required to support the application.
DESIGN & ACCESS STATEMENT
The application will also need to include a Design and Access Statement. This will explain the principles of design – what the proposal is and how it has come about – and how these relate to the special architectural or historic importance of the building. It will also deal with how access issues have been considered.
DRAWINGS & DOCUMENTS
In addition to the usual plans, sections and elevations that are required for a planning application, listed building consent will frequently require more detailed information, dealing with the existing and proposed conditions. This might include:
Photographs showing existing features
More detailed drawings
Specification items – for example dealing with walling, tiling or mortar
Schedule of finishes for each room
Provision of trade literature for items such as rooflights and rainwater goods
In some cases, it may be possible and prudent to provide this information with the initial application. In other cases, these items can be provided afterwards in response to conditions of approval.
The proposals will be considered by the council’s Conservation Officer and, in certain scenarios, Historic England will also be consulted.
TIME & COSTS
When considering undertaking work on listed buildings, it is important to allow time for the process, which invariably takes longer than typical extension or refurbishment work. You should also take into account that the project will require materials, workmanship and products that may be more costly than equivalent work on a non-listed property.
If you would like us to help you realise your vision, please get in touch.
DISCLAIMER. The information provided above is general in its nature and is based on our experience of previous projects. It should not be considered to constitute professional advice for your particular project and should not be relied upon as such.