Listed Building repairs
It has long been established that in most instances repairs to a listed building will not require listed building consent whilst consent for any alterations, particularly if it affects the character of the property, will be needed. What has become increasingly obvious is that without formal consent or written confirmation that consent was not required problems can arise when it comes to a sale.

In many instances the solicitor acting for a purchaser will also be reporting to a bank or building society and having to comply with the Mortgage Lenders’ Handbook. This means that unlike a buyer who can “take a view” the lender will rely entirely on the solicitor’s report and it is unlikely either solicitor or lender will have seen the property.

Unfortunately, the law is very good at telling one what cannot be done but seldom explains what is allowed. Whether a building is listed Grade I, II* or II the legislation governing repairs is basically the same. The Department of the Environment, Department of National Heritage Planning Policy Guidance document, PPG15, appears to give the clearest information to owners and states that “consent is not normally required for repairs, but where repairs involve alterations which would affect the character of the listed building, consent is required. It rather unhelpfully goes on to say that “whether repairs actually constitute alterations which require consent is a matter of fact and degree which must be determined in each case”. Historic England have also published advice to owners “The Repair of Listed Buildings – Advice and Principles” which may assist some owners who are in doubt as to what they can do.

In general, the practical advice must be that if you are undertaking repairs which are like for like repairs it would certainly be advisable to have photographic evidence of condition before repairs take place and after the work has been completed. This way it would at least be possible to demonstrate that the repair was genuinely like for like. Furthermore, it would be sensible to keep a copy of the specification provided by the builder or specialist undertaking the work to prove that it was to replicate what was there. Finally, keep a copy of the builder’s quote or invoice to prove that identical materials were used as this could also be helpful should the repair be challenged.

On the face of it this advice may seem a hassle generating yet more paperwork and the chances are that the Conservation Officer will be more than happy to see a building kept in good repair. The problem comes when a sale takes place and the standard question in the general enquiries asks whether any alterations have taken place that would need consent. Hopefully photograph evidence and a description of the work will help demonstrate that repairs were exactly that and conformed to PPG15.3.2.

Dawn Carritt
020 7664 6646

25th April 2017