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Listed Building Consent

Listed building consent (LBC) is needed for any 'material change' to a Listed Building.  What is a material change? It is anything that alters the fabric, or the significance of the building.  Simple example - you discover a rainwater pipe leaked and the plaster is damaged on a wall.  Removing the plaster and replacing it is routine maintenance - or is it?  Removing historic lime plaster, and replacing it with gypsum is a material change, and requires LBC.  You wouldn't get it.  Repairing the wall with lime plaster is replacing like for like, and is fine and ok.  If you move into a listed building and are one of the thousands of people who get told 'rip out that damp front floor with rotten timbers, and replace it with nice concrete'.... you will be committing a criminal offence of 'Damaging a Listed Building'.  You have just removed historic fabric and replaced it with modern materials will will cause immeasurable harm to the base of the walls, making them damp.  The fact that your original surveyor neglected to tell you that a bit better air circulation under the floors would have solved the problem - is best left to lawyers.  

We help owners with Listed building consent guidance - here's a few bits and bobs to get you going:

First you need to download the application forms from your Local Authority (LA).  You will need to submit any application with proposed and existing plans and elevations.  This is often the most expensive part of the job - an archtect or good architectural draftie will need to prepare these to the required scale, with location plans.

Then you need to submit what is known as a Design and Access Statement (DAS).  This, for a Listed Building, is more a statement of historical information.  All you know about the building, its history, development, significance (we just found out that Douglas Bader owned a house we surveyed and would have flown from near there during the war) and a treatment of features - windows, doors, window and door furniture, and so on.  The DAS is a powerful tool in getting LBC - the better it is, the more chance your application will sail through - it shows you know and have researched the house.  You understand why it is Listed - its significance in time, place, socially, materially.  The changes you propose will relate to the DAS and harmonise with it.  For example if you were to remove a rotten 1960's window, your DAS would examine other windows in the house - are they original or copies - what other houses in the area are similar - maybe built by the same architect.  Do they have similar windows?  If you can propose a new design based on 3 other Georgian houses in the same street, which have original windows, your application will likely succeed.  If your DAS just says you like this kind of window, and there is no research into why that window should be approved, you almost certainly will be turned down.

With the DAS you will need to  give a schedule of works, and specifications for materials to be used.  These should be based on traditional materials - lime mortars and plasters - no cement and gypsum.  Timber not plastic. Traditional fillers like oakum caulking, not silicone. Internal changes like bathrooms and kitchens obviously need to be modern - but you need to make sure they don't damage historic fabric, and that they don't introduce irreversible change.  Reversibility is important.  As an example, taking windows out and replacing them with more modern, double glazed ones will not be approved. Restoring them, and fitting glass shutters to the stop beads of the sashes, would be approved as secondary glazing that is consistent with modern life, but is easily reversed, and doesnt impact on the significance of the building.

Damp proofing of any kind is frowned upon.  Injection holes destroy historic fabric and is thus a criminal offence.

Criminal damage of a Listed Building

Criminal damage of a Listed Building - damp companies have been getting away with it for years..

Retrospective listed building consent is likely to be quite hard to get.  Often we discover that unauthorised changes have been made to a building and recommend to buyers that the current owner regularises the situation. Trying to get permission retrospectively may be very difficult - and can often result in an 'Enforcement Notice'. I always advise owners that early communication with the LA Conservation Officer is the best approach.  Be open about it - ask their advice - do your research.  Try to give them a sensible solution - if it's plastic double glazed windows in a Grade 1 timber frame, you haven't a hope - but if its plastic windows in a Grade 2 cottage, and you don't have the cash - they may issue a letter allowing them to stay, on condition that if ANY other changes are made to the building, the windows automatically must be changed to a more acceptable format. Generally Conservation Officers will take the view that honesty be rewarded, sneaky will result in enforcement.  Obviously it is all a matter of scale - removing a vast section of the Grade 1 Listed garden wall to a medieval manor house, so the owner had better views down the valley, did not meet with much support from the LA - and cost a great deal of money to put back again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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