Are you interested in buying a property that is listed or do you own a listed building and are unsure what it all means? Here’s a quick guide for you.
What is a listed building?
If a building is listed it mean it is protected because it is deemed important in some way, usually in a cultural or historical context.
If a building is listed you will need to require permissiom to make any alterations internally or externally.
Why is a building listed?
Historic buildings are a precious and finite asset, and reminders to us of the work and way of life of earlier generations. The architectural heritage plays an influential part in our sense of national and regional identity.
Listing ensures that the architectural and historic interests of buildings are carefully considered before any alterations, either outside or inside, are agreed.
How are buildings chosen to be listed?
Buildings can be listed because of age, rarity, architectural merit, and method of construction. Occasionally English Heritage selects a building because the building has played a part in the life of a famous person, or as the scene for an important event.
The older a building is, the more likely it is to be listed. All buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition are listed, as are most built between 1700 and 1840. After that date, the criteria become tighter with time, so that post-1945 buildings have to be exceptionally important to be listed.
There is no formal right of appeal against this decision, at the moment of listing, but an owner may at any time put to the Secretary of State evidence that his building does not possess the architectural or historic interest identified.
Different Grades of listings
There is a grading system, so various properties may have different listing grades from one another. The buildings are graded to show their relative architectural or historic interest:
– Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest
– Grade II* are particularly important buildings of more than special interest
– Grade II are of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them
Making changes to a listed building
If you want to make changes to a listed building, whether interior or exterior, you will need to get permission from the local planning authority. Alterations that may seem minor, such as stone cleaning all or part of the property, may require listed building consent. It’s always best to make sure before you make any alterations, regardless of how small and irrelevant you may think they are.
What is the Local Authority’s role in listed building consent?
The local Planning Authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent. The Planning Authority will consider applications in the light of the advice given in Historic Scotland’s Memorandum of Guidance and other national policy documents as well as their own policies.
If an application for a listed building consent is refused by the planning authority, or if the conditions are felt by the applicant to be unreasonable, there is a right of appeal to the Secretary of State.
Advantages of a Listed building
- the investor is buying a piece of history and a building with character
- Listed buildings are unique
- Listed buildings are unlikely to lose value as easily as regular buildings
- VAT is waived on the costs of alterations to listed buildings, although it still applies to everyday maintenance works, allowing for investors to make “huge savings”
- Owners that cannot afford repairs can apply for a grant that is available for buildings of ‘outstanding architectural or historic interest’. Grants are made towards re-roofing, treating dry rot and other structural repairs, but not normally towards decoration or works of regular maintenance. Grants cannot be made for work already started or completed, so requests for assistance should be made before work is begun.
Disadvantages of listed buildings
- you need permission from the local planning authority before making any changes
- your request for making changes can be denied; ultimately you will not have the final say
- If a local authority consider that a listed building is not being properly preserved they may serve on the owner a ‘repairs notice’ under Section 115 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971. This notice must specify the works which the authority consider reasonably necessary for the proper preservation of the building and explain that if it is not complied with within 2 months the authority may make a compulsory purchase order and submit it to the Secretary of State for confirmation. If the owner deliberately neglects the building in order to redevelop the site, the local authority may not only acquire the building, but may do so at a price which excludes the value of the site for redevelopment.
- Even though there are various schemes that will help an owner with repairs, there is a possibility that they won’t fall under those that are suited for a grant, consequently may need to make hefty payments for necessary repairs.
- Repairs on a listed building are likely to be more costly than repairs on a standard building because they may need specialist tradesman to complete the work, at a certain high standard.