Welcome to part two of our series on Answering Your Listed Building FAQs. In this second edition, we will continue where we left off and clear up any questions you may have surrounding this particular topic.

What Are the Consequences of Unauthorised Works Carried Out on a Listed Building?

If unapproved plan guidelines and/or unauthorised work is conducted, the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 will have been broken. The result can lead to enforcement proceedings against you.

Making good any damage or reinstating works that were not approved is then bestowed at your own expense. What’s more, there’s a chance that you could be liable to prosecution because carrying out unauthorised works to a Listed Building is, in fact, a criminal offence.

We’ve listed a handful of examples that fall under the unauthorised works category. These works would require reinstatement:

  • Roof window installation
  • Modifications to staircases
  • New windows, notably uPVC or stained finished windows, as these are rarely apt for a Listed Building
  • Low-quality brickwork or re-pointing of brickwork
  • External re-painting in an alternative colour
  • Internal alterations, such as wall removal
  • Removal of internal doors

Carry out these kinds of actions, and you could be forced to pay out vast amounts in reinstatement costs, which will also prove to be quite the inconvenience. As such, it’s well worth staying in the realms of the law, and if you have any queries, contact a professional, such as our structural engineers in Cornwall.

Is Planning Permission the same as Listed Building Consent?

No, they are not the same; there is a system for each. A listed building application is required when any works that will potentially affect the character of the building as a listed building.

There’s not really a straightforward guide to what falls under this category as each individual case is judged accordingly. Councils will completely assess the proposals, and although works such as internal alterations don’t typically require planning permission, they’ll most likely need listed building consent.

The removal of historic features, including stairs, fireplaces, panelling, and decorative plasterwork normally necessitates formal consent. Any application for Listed Building consent must feature information and detailed drawings as means of justifying the proposed changes. Applications might not even be registered if these steps are not taken.

How Long Does Listed Building Consent Take to be Approved?

On average, you should allow for around two months for a Listed Building Consent application to reach its course. Any urgent works should be deliberated with the Planning Services Department.

Grade I or Grade II* normally come with a longer timeframe before an application goes through to allow for the local planning authority to carry out extra consultations needed when dealing with these types of buildings.

What Duties Come with Owning a Listed Building?

While there are no set rules on the upkeep of these buildings, it is really in the interests of the owner to maintain them as best as possible. Having said that, Local Planning Authorities hold power to deal with a problem if it was deemed necessary. For example, if a historic building had become visibly deteriorated whereby its future preservation could well be at risk, then action may well be taken.

If a Listed Building Falls into Disrepair, Can Authorities Take Action?

As we touched on previously, the authorities do have powers to take action, and they can also make suitable moves to request that owners carry out crucial repairs for the future safeguarding of a building. Some instances will see the authority apply for a ‘Compulsory Purchase Order’ on Listed Building.

This is a legal function that allows the authority to obtain the property without the consent of the owner.

If I Purchase a Listed Building with Existing Unauthorised Works Carried Out, who is Liable?

Unfortunately for you, if you buy a Listed Building with unauthorised works already carried out, you are saddled with the responsibility and become liable for any enforcement action in connection to these works. It’s well worth inspecting the property for any potential unauthorised works prior to making a purchase to avoid such issues.

Can You Get a Grant to Fix Repairs on a Listed Building?

Councils do not offer grants of any kind for the repair or maintenance of historic buildings. You can, however, seek possible grants from organisations such as English Heritage if you require financial backing.