Certificates of Immunity and Heritage Partnership Agreements
The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 covers the major part of the legislation relating to listed buildings.  This in itself is a complex piece of legislation which many owners have struggled to understand and found compliance even harder.  Matters are made even more complicated by a succession of Acts that have been passed since 1990 which also impact on listed buildings.

One of the most recent amendments to the 1990 Act is included in the less than obviously named Enterprise and Regulation Reform Act 2013.  One of the most helpful issues covered by the Act is to ascertain whether a building or structure which was deemed to be within the curtilage of a listed building prior to 1948 is still regarded as being listed.  As time passes it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify which structures were covered by the 1948 cut-off date.  It should now be possible for owners to apply for a Certificate of Immunity lasting 5 years, or seek confirmation that the structure is not designated of special architectural or historic interest.  This should save the cost of unnecessary listed building consents and help resolve a very grey area which has vexed owners for decades.

Heritage Partnership Agreements have also been introduced which should, in theory, help owners with ongoing maintenance of preservation work.  An owner is now able to enter into an HPA with the local authority or English Heritage which will be a one-off agreement covering a programme of work on an ongoing/regular basis without having to apply for further listed building consent, provided, of course, the work is covered by the agreement.  The consent granted under a HPA will run with the land and could therefore be of benefit to a future owner.  It is too early to know how beneficial these changes are in practice.

Dawn Carritt
Historic House Department
020 7664 6646