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Worried about your Listed Building? Help is at hand if you have fallen foul of the rules!

Following the 1st instalment of our article on the rules governing alterations to Listed Buildings posted on 9th November 2020, read on to find out what to do if you need help and give us a call if you need further advice.

The article was published in full in the Autumn edition of Premier Magazine – check it out at

Some people buy and alter a Listed building without obtaining the necessary permissions and find that they are facing prosecution for carrying out unauthorised works. This can lead to a criminal conviction and up to two years' imprisonment and an unlimited fine. Usually this level of fine would only be on the most brazen breaches and where no attempt has been made to engage with Historic England or the Local Planning Authority, but clearly a fine and a criminal conviction is not part of contented home ownership!

Engaging with the Conservation Officer is the best way to ensure compliance. For simple works, a phone call or email enquiry may suffice and can be a good way to start to build up a relationship of trust. For more extensive works, it may be sensible to ask an experienced conservation professional to advise you, to develop your proposals and to engage with the Conservation Officer.

The AABC maintain a Register of Architects Accredited in Building Conservation (Nye Saunders Ltd’s Director Michael Staff is on this register) These professionals will have the necessary experience and will be able to advise you of what can and as importantly cannot be done. They will also advise on obtaining the necessary planning permissions. Permission usually takes the form of a formal Listed Building Consent, or for more minor items a simple telephone conversation or email agreement with the Local Authority Conservation Officer may suffice.

Another common misconception is that there is a four-year rule whereby anything ‘not picked up’ by the Local Authority within that timescale for being carried out can automatically be approved. That may apply in some circumstances on unlisted buildings in terms of planning permission, but does not apply on Listed Buildings. This is a point worth considering when purchasing a house because in theory unauthorised alterations by former owners could be required to be regularised and could even lead to prosecutions of those concerned. A solicitor may well pick up on any such items but cannot be expected to be a building historian in establishing what has changed on a house and when. The advice of a conservation professional would be worth seeking to ensure that what should have been someone else’s problem does not become yours.

At Nye Saunders Ltd, we have recently helped two clients who were the subject of enforcement prosecution. In both cases, we negotiated with the Local Authority Conservation Officers and agreed a scheme of appropriate reinstatement works, and obtained the appropriate planning and Listed Building consents for further alterations. The end results preserved the historic buildings for future generations and gave our clients attractive and authentic homes that they can be proud of.

Whether you need assistance with a Listed Building Consent 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 specialist advice.

In addition to (Director) Michael Staff being on the AABC register, (Director) Adam Hieke sits on the Guildford Diocesan Advisory Committee providing expert advice on the care of local Churches, many of which are Listed Buildings. Continuing the tradition of expertise in the field of historic buildings, the newest member of our team (Architectural Technologist) Lauren Milnthorpe has recently completed her MSC in the Conservation of Historic Buildings from Bath University.

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