It is certainly not unusual for me to be instructed on the purchase of a listed building; however a client who instructed yesterday asked me if I thought this was a good thing. I confess I was a bit stumped for a reply. The estate agent had quite rightly mentioned the listing in the sales details and this was being portrayed as a feature, I suppose the thinking is that if the Secretary of State thinks the property is special so will you! So here’s the background….
There are many different criteria for listed building, but ultimately,all listed buildings are registered on a list compiled by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
Buildings can only be listed by the Secretary of State. However, any organisation or individual, may put forward buildings for listing. Local Planning Authorities may serve Building Preservation Notices which give six months protection but if, ultimately, the listing is not confirmed by the Secretary of State then the Local Authority may have to pay compensation. For this reason, Local Planning Authorities do not enter lightly into the use of Building Preservation Notices. As you can see, it is a complex issue.
It is also important to understand that not only is the main building listed but also extensions to the building and certain structures, e.g. boundary walls, etc. In addition, free-standing structures within the Listed Building’s curtilage and dating from before 1948 are also listed. Also even with Grade II Listed Buildings, the internal plan, form and features which are fixed to the building, e.g. internal joinery, doors, fireplaces, cornices, etc. also form part of the listing.
So what happens when you want to do some work to your listed home? Well, works which affect the character or appearance of the building require Listed Building Consent. This is in addition to any other necessary consents, e.g. Planning Permission, Building Regulations, etc. Even works of a fairly minor nature will need Listed Building Consent and, as mentioned above, interior works as well as exterior ones may well require consent. And this is not the end of it, there are however some areas that do not such as like for like repairs using traditional materials. But the message is, have your work checked.
If you don’t obtain consent for the works or deliberately damage to a listed building it is a criminal offence. The penalties are quite severe and theoretically could involve a prison sentence.
Therefore, from a legal point of view it is essential to ensure that all previous owners obtained the appropriate listed building consents for all works to the property. If not, the new owner could be charged with the cost of any remedial works required to works done by any previous owner – and there is no time limit for this.
For more information, please contact: Stuart Durrant