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Purchasing a Listed Building? Avoid the pitfalls in order to enjoy the benefits!

Don’t be put off purchasing a Listed Building for fear of the controls over and costs of historic building ownership, as an understanding of what is involved can ensure that you don’t miss out on the opportunity to live in a home of genuine character and authenticity.

Keep reading for the 1st instalment of our two-part article recently published in full in the Autumn edition of Premier Magazine providing valuable insight from our specialists in the field of historic buildings.

It may be surprising to some that they may not be at liberty to make desired changes and alterations to a property they own if it is Listed, so it is important to understand what controls there are over your home. Many structures, outbuildings etc., within the curtilage (an area of land attached to a house and forming one enclosure with it) of the main Listed Building may also be considered curtilage Listed and in effect have the same level of control as the main building.

Properties within defined conservation areas can also have some controls over them, for example, over the colour of the front door, although these are usually just to help preserve the overall appearance of the conservation area itself.

One common misconception is that “it’s only the outside that is Listed”. This is not so and even the most seemingly minor alteration on any grade of Listed Building and whether that be inside or out may require permission.

Like for like repairs can be carried out without consent, but where extensive, such works start to become more akin to alterations and the Local Authority may be entitled to take the view that these require permission.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive list of what work may or may not be acceptable – as much because such a list may appear too restrictive to allow for the variety of ways in which issues might be addressed.

This may all seem daunting, but in practice, Local Authorities have limited resources to police their stock of Listed Buildings and common sense has to prevail. All Local Authorities will have access to or employ Conservation or Historic Building Officers to advise them and you will find that generally these are enthusiasts with a love of historic architecture and a keen wish to help adapt and provide advice on looking after our historic houses. Indeed Historic England recognise that the best way to encourage the maintenance of Listed Buildings is to keep them relevant and usable in the 21st Century.

Permission usually takes the form of a formal Listed Building Consent. If you need advice or assistance with such an application, or find yourself in trouble with the Local Authority enforcement team, there is professional help available to negotiate a way through – contact Nye Saunders Ltd for advice.

Our Director, Michael Staff is on the list of Architects Accredited in Building Conservation (AABC), our Architectural Technologist, Lauren Milnthorpe, has recently completed her MSc in the Conservation of Historic Buildings from the University of Bath and another of our Directors, Adam Hieke, sits on the Guildford Diocesan Advisory Committee providing expert advice on the care of Churches (many of them Listed) in the local area.

Look out for the 2nd instalment for advice on what to do if you fall foul of the rules!

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