If your house is included on a statutory list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest, compiled and managed by English Heritage, then it is classed as a ‘listed building’. This means that the property is legally protected, in order to preserve and safeguard it for future enjoyment. It means that any proposed alterations to the building must be considered in conjunction with the historical and architectural interest of the building before they are agreed. Although buildings are not listed solely because of their age, the older a building is, the more likely it is that it will be listed.
You can check whether or not your property is listed by consulting the National Heritage database.
If your house is a listed building, you will need to obtain listed-building consent from your local planning authority if you wish to:
- demolish or partially demolish it; or
- alter or extend it in any manner which would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. For example, this may include the removal and replacement of doors and windows; alterations to the interior fabric of your house; or an extension to your house.
The procedure for obtaining listed-building consent is similar to that for obtaining planning permission, and you should contact your local authority if you wish to enquire about this. An agent and/or architect can make the application for listed-building consent on your behalf and, although this will be more costly, it is often recommended by local authorities to ensure that the application runs smoothly and quickly.
If demolition or works for alteration or extension of your listed building are carried out without consent, and the work affects the character of your house as a building of special architectural or historic interest; or you fail to comply with any condition attached to a listed-building consent, your local planning authority can issue a listed-building enforcement notice. It is an offence to demolish, alter or extend your listed building without consent and this can be punishable with an unlimited fine and/or 12 months’ imprisonment.
An applicant for listed-building consent has a right of appeal to the Secretary of State if their application is refused by the local planning authority, or granted subject to conditions. You should contact your local planning authority for information on the procedure by which you can appeal.
A local authority has the power to serve on the owner of a listed building a ‘repairs notice’ if they consider that the building is not being properly preserved. This notice will specify the action required by the owner and explain that in the event of non compliance within two months, the local authority may submit a compulsory purchase order to the Secretary of State.
A local authority also has the power to carry out ‘urgent works’ for the preservation of a listed building, provided they have served notice on you as the owner. You should be aware that they might then be able to recover the costs of these works from you.