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Thinking of Buying a Listed Building?

Rose bushes and white picket fences; babbling brooks running past the front gate; inglenook fireplaces and thatched roofs…..lots of people dream of owning a listed building (whether “olde worlde” or perhaps a more modern art deco design) but many are put off the idea by red tape and the restrictions.

What is a listed building?

“Listing” means that the building is included on the National Heritage List as a property of special architectural or historic interest.
The affect of this is that the character of the property must be maintained and the owner of the property has a duty to ensure the upkeep of the property.
It is important to note that listing not only protects the exterior of the property but also the interior of the property, the area immediately surrounding it “the curtilage” and any extensions. It could for example also include garden walls and courtyards and even statues!
Listed Status
There are varying degrees of listings as follows:-
Grade I – The property/building is of exceptional interest – only a very small minatory of listed buildings are Grade I listed.
Grade II* – The buildings are particularly important, being more than special interest. Just over 5% of listed buildings are Grade II*
Grade II – Buildings of special architectural or historic interest. The majority of listed buildings are Grade II. In fact 92% of all listings are Grade II.
What if I want make changes to my listed building?
You will need to make contact with the Local Authority and speak to the Conservation Officer as soon as you can and certainly prior to commencing any works. Their role is to ensure the character of the building is preserved and will either grant or refuse consent to make changes to the building. In agreeing to any alterations they may determine particular materials are used and/or particular techniques applied.
Such controls are known as “listed building consent”. It is very similar to the grant of planning permission however very importantly there is no time limit for enforcement for breach of consent or not obtaining consent at all.
It is of utmost importance that, other than for simple routine maintenance or repair, consent is granted prior to the commencement of works.
NB in addition to a listed building consent planning permission and building regulation approval may also be required. You should always check specific requirements with the relevant Local Authority prior to undertaking any works to your property.
It is a criminal office to make alterations to a listed building without the appropriate consent, such liability will pass to subsequent owners of the property. As such if you are about to purchase a listed building it is vitally important you ensure all works have the relevant consent. It does not matter you did not personally undertake the work or how long ago the works were undertaken.
If you are planning works to a listed building or within the curtilage ensure you involve the Conservation Officer at the earliest possible stage.
What should I look out for when purchasing a listed building?
Be particularly vigilant about seemingly unauthorised alterations which have been carried out by previous owners and ask your solicitor/surveyor to investigate and report on any areas of particular concern.
It would be prudent to work with your surveyor and solicitor and obtain a comprehensive list of all alterations or additions to the property in order that full enquiries can be made regarding consents prior to exchange of contracts.
Finally ensure you disclose the listing to your proposed buildings insurer and ensure you are fully covered for full reinstatement value should the worst happen. Repairs and maintenance to listed buildings are likely to be more costly and this should be taken into account in any rebuild cost.
There is a helpful guide available about owning a listed building courtesy of the Listed Property Owners Club.
For more information or to talk to someone about your potential purchase or sale of a listed building call our Conveyancing experts on 0800 088 6004 today.