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What Alterations Can Be Made On A Listed Building

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  • 18-05-2023
What Alterations Can Be Made On A Listed Building

Have you ben asking: What alterations can be made on a listed building? TJF Chartered Surveyors offer listed building surveys for Westminster and throughout London. We look at if you need planning permission for internal alterations and if you can  modernise a listed building.

What Alterations Can Be Made On A Listed Building?

Listed buildings are important historical and architectural landmarks. These buildings are legally protected to preserve their cultural significance. Over time, these buildings may require alterations or renovations to meet modern needs. This needs to be done while maintaining their historic character. This can be a challenging process. The alterations must meet specific criteria and guidelines.

This is to ensure that the building's heritage value is not compromised. In this article, we will explore what alterations can be made on a listed building. Find out more about the permissions required and building regulations. We also look at the considerations that must be taken into account when making changes to these important structures.

Professional advice should be sought before attempting any work on a listed property or building of historic interest.

What is a Grade II listed building?

Listed buildings in England are classified into three categories, depending on their architectural significance. this is determined by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. Grade I buildings are considered to be of exceptional interest.

These make up only 2.5% of all listed buildings, while Grade II* buildings are of particular importance and account for 5.8% of listed buildings. The majority of listed buildings belong to the category Grade II buildings.

Grade II buildings are structures of special interest that require every effort to be preserved. The devolved nations also have a similar listing system for buildings of historical and cultural importance.

What Alterations Can Be Made On A Listed Building? Listed Building Surveys Westminster And London

Can you alter the interior of a Grade 2 listed building?

Obtaining listed building consent can be a complex process. But it is essential to protect the building's historical and architectural value. Minor repairs and maintenance on a Grade II listed building usually do not need listed building consent. This includes work such as repainting the kitchen or fixing a leaky faucet.

Yet, any "material change" to the building requires consent from the relevant authorities. This can include changing the colour of external doors and windows. It is crucial to consult with the local authority before undertaking any work. This is regardless of whether it is considered a minor repair or a material change.

The following  are com mon projects that require listed building consent:

 Replacing windows or doors, even if they have the same design and materials as the original. Installing double glazing or secondary glazing also requires permission.

 Painting the building's exterior if it has not been painted before or if a new colour will alter its appearance or character. 

 Roof repairs or replacement, especially if the roof timbers, structure, or appearance will be altered. Thatching a roof with a different material also requires consent.

 Adding a satellite dish to the building or its surrounding land, which may also require planning permission.

 Erecting a new building or structure within the property's curtilage, depending on its impact on listed garden features.

 Building an extension, porch, or conservatory that is attached to the building or its curtilage buildings.

 Creating a fence, gate, or wall that is attached to the main building or its curtilage buildings.

 Exposing timbers or brickwork.

 Adding solar panels or wind turbines, which must not damage historic materials and must be reversible.

What can you not change on a listed building?

Listed buildings, particularly those in Grade II, are subject to strict regulations. These prohibit certain alterations which would compromise their historical or architectural value. These include:

  • Removing architectural features, such as fireplaces, panelling, decorative stonework, or mullions.
  • Stone cleaning, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
  • Adding pipes, flues, or alarm boxes to the front of the property.
  • Removing boundary walls or gates.
  • Repointing using incorrect materials, as many Grade II buildings use lime mortar.
  • Removing chimney stacks or pots.
  • Painting or rendering stonework.

It is essential to obtain consent from the relevant authorities before making any changes to a listed building. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in legal action and hefty fines.

What Can You Not Change On A Listed Building? Listed Building Surveys Westminster And London

Do I need planning permission for alterations to a listed building?

Listed building consent is mandatory for most internal alterations if you own a listed house or flat. Generally, any internal work that affects the special interest of the property requires consent. This includes removing or erecting internal walls, installing new fixtures, and service pipes.

 Window Replacement

Replacing windows may require a Certificate of Lawfulness or Listed Building Consent. Consent is unlikely to be granted if non-traditional materials. This includes when uPVC or aluminium are used to replace traditional timber joinery, even if it follows the same glazing pattern.

Adding secondary glazing that does not involve the loss of original fabric should be covered by a Certificate of Lawfulness. Replacing single-glazed windows with double-glazed windows may be acceptable in some locations.

In more sensitive locations or where traditional glazing bars are too narrow this may be restricted. In these cases, secondary glazing or an alternative solution may be necessary. 

Do I Need Planning Permission For Alterations To A Listed Building?

 Roof Repairs

Repairing a roof using the same materials and construction methods while removing damaged parts is referred to as "like-for-like" repairs. It is likely that a Certificate of Lawfulness will cover the work. 

 Use Of New Materials

Is new material is being introduced to the building or original fabric being removed? Then you will likely need Listed Building Consent or a Certificate of Lawfulness. This includes painting, re-rendering, cladding, re-roofing, and changing windows and doors.

 Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

Energy-saving measures like draft proofing, loft insulation, and boiler upgrades may be permitted. This work should have minimal impact on the building but provide significant energy savings. This work can be covered with a Certificate of Lawfulness.

More disruptive work such as internal or external insulation will typically require Listed Building Consent. Adding renewable energy solutions like solar panels or air and ground source heat pumps may be acceptable. But you should consult with the appropriate authorities first.

Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy - What Alterations Can Be Made On A Listed Building?

What is Listed Building Consent?

Before altering or extending a listed building, or even considering demolition, apply for Listed Building Consent. This is acquired from the local planning authority. Consent is required if the changes will impact the character or appearance of a building of special architectural or historic interest. You should consult with your local authority Conservation Officer before starting work.

They will help you to determine whether consent is required and what alterations might be acceptable. This step can help you save time and money. You will discover whether your ideas need adaptation to increase their likelihood of success.

When reviewing your application, the planning authority must focus on preserving the building. This includes its setting, and the features that make it unique. Therefore, it is crucial to consider these aspects when planning any proposed changes to the listed building.

Is Unauthorised work on a Listed Building a criminal offence?

Conducting unauthorized work on a listed building is considered a criminal offense. Therefore individuals can face prosecution for unauthorized Listed Building work. If any work has been carried out without proper consent, a planning authority may require that it be undone.

As such, it's always advisable to consult with the local planning authority before making any changes to a listed building. Owners who fail to obtain Listed Building Consent for alterations can cause further issues. They may also encounter difficulties when attempting to sell their property.

Can I Modernise a Grade 2 listed building?

Listed buildings are protected by law due to their historical or architectural importance. This means that there are restrictions on what can be done to them, both inside and outside. While Grade II listed buildings have slightly less stringent regulations, it is still important to follow the rules.

When it comes to maintenance and repairs, use like-for-like materials and traditional methods. This work is generally acceptable without prior consent.

Caution is advised when making changes to features that may be part of the listing. Examples include Victorian fittings or historic garden structures.

Can I Modernise A Grade 2 Listed Building? Listed Building Surveys Westminster And London

Extending a listed building

Extending a listed building is a more complex process.  Current guidelines now emphasize the need to clearly distinguish between the old and the new. Seeking advice from organizations can be helpful in navigating these regulations. This includes the Listed Property Owners’ Club or the free Listed Property Owners Guide from Historic England.

Applying for listed building consent can be a lengthy process. But it is important for preserving the property's heritage for the future. While local authorities may have different opinions on what is suitable, perseverance is key. It is essential to remember that maintaining a listed property is a long-term investment. Taking the time to follow the rules will ultimately be worth it.

Are you looking for listed building surveys in Westminster and London? Discuss your requirements with our surveyors.