Solicitor Kayleigh Chapman, in our leading Planning & Environmental law team, explains the process for obtaining Listed Building Consent.
We have previously published a blog article explaining when planning permission and listed building consent might be required. Below we will look at the process for obtaining Listed Building Consent, the statutory test works to a listed building needs to overcome and the consequences of not obtaining such consent.
Listed Building Consent
Section 7 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (“1990 Act”) provides the prohibition on any works for the demolition or alternation or extension of a listed building which would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. Section 7 also confirms that such works are not permitted unless they are “authorised”.
Section 8 of the 1990 Act provides a means by which works to a listed building can be authorised, namely the obtaining of a written consent from the local planning authority or Secretary of State (“listed building consent”). Section 8(1) confirms that any conditions attached to the listed building consent must be complied with.
An application for listed building consent should be made to the local planning authority for your area. There is no fee payable for such applications, however if planning permission is also required there will likely be a fee for that application.
You should submit sufficient information to identify the property to which the application relates (including a plan), other plans and drawings to show what works are intended and other particulars as required by the local planning authority. Care should be made in drawing up proposals for alterations to a listed building to show how you have considered the historical context of the building and how this has informed the design of the alterations.
In addition to the above, local planning authorities publish validation checklists which will confirm what other documentation and information is required to support an application for listed building consent.
Once the application is submitted the local planning authority has a target of either eight weeks or thirteen weeks to determine the application (eight weeks will generally be the time scale where the application is for a small scheme).
In determining an application for listed building consent the local planning authority is required to have “special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its settings or any features of special architectural or historic interest” that the property possesses.
The local planning authority can grant listed building consent unconditionally, subject to conditions (e.g. requiring materials to be submitted and approved prior to works commencing) or refuse the application. If the application is refused then you will have a period of six months within which to appeal.
Consequences of Carrying Out works without LBC - Prosecution
Section 8 of the 1990 Act does allow an application for listed building consent to be made retrospectively. However, due to the consequences for failing to obtain listed building consent we would advise you to not take that risk. Similarly, we would advise that any conditions attached to the listed building consent are complied with fully.
Section 9 the 1990 Act confirms that if you do works (including demolition) to a listed building which affect the character of that building as a building of special architectural or historic interest without listed building consent an offence will have been committed.
Whilst carrying out works affecting the character of a listed building without consent is an automatic offence, prosecution does not necessarily automatically follow. The local planning authority has discretion over whether to take steps to prosecute.
If the local planning authority does prosecute for failing to obtain listed building consent and the benefit of a defence is not available there can be significant penalties. Section 9 provides the penalties for committing an offence. If prosecuted the Magistrates’ Court can impose up to six months imprisonment or a fine (or both). The Crown Court maximum prison sentence that could be imposed is two years. A fine can also be imposed. The level of fine that can be imposed (either by the Magistrates’ or Crown Court) is unlimited. A Court can take into account any financial benefit accrued as a consequence of the offence, for example an increase in value of a property, when determining the level of fine.
You will see from the possible consequences of a prosecution that it is important to follow the required procedure. Failure to do so can result in significant financial consequences, and possibly a prison sentence. If you have carried out works to a listed building without consent we would advise that you seek professional advice as soon as possible to establish whether retrospective consent might be achievable and if not, what steps you should be taken to avoid enforcement.
If you are contemplating works to a listed building then you should at the very least consider discussing your proposals with the local planning authority to establish whether they would consider such works to require consent.
For further information or legal advice, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0118 951 6800.
This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.