General consent framework

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General consent framework

Planning application and permission for works

Certain types of work to unlisted domestic buildings are exempt from the need to seek planning permission. These are referred to as ‘permitted development rights’. However, even with an unlisted domestic building outside a conservation area, planning permission will often be required for other kinds of work , such as the installation of solar panels on a main roof slope facing the street.

If a domestic building is listed, permitted development rights are significantly reduced. Planning permission and listed building consent will therefore probably be required.

Protection of historic buildings generally

Listed Buildings

In England buildings are selected for the statutory list of historic buildings if they meet one or more of four criteria (PPG 15, 6.10):

  • architectural interest: the lists are meant to include all buildings that are of importance to the nation for the interest of their architectural design, decoration and craftsmanship. The lists also include important examples of particular building types and techniques (eg buildings displaying technological innovation or virtuosity) and significant plan forms;
  • historic interest: this includes buildings that illustrate important aspects of the nation’s social, economic, cultural or military history;
  • close historical associations with nationally important people or events;
  • group value, especially where buildings comprise an important architectural or historic unity or a fine example of planning (eg squares, terraces or model villages).

In practice age and rarity are the most important considerations when determining the historic interest of a building. Typically listed are:

  • All buildings constructed before 1700 that survive in anything like their original condition.
  • Most buildings betweenof about 1700 to 1840.
  • The best examples of particular building types, and buildings of definite quality and character from between 1840 and 1914.
  • Selected buildings from the period after 1914.
  • Buildings less than 30 years old that are of outstanding quality and under threat.

Listed building consent is required for any works, internal or external, that in the judgement of the local planning authority would affect a listed building’s character as ‘a building of special architectural or historic interest’. With the exception of certain alterations or replacement of controlled services or fittings, this will include almost all items defined as ‘building work’ in Building Regulation 3. Consent is not usually required for a like-for-like renovation of a thermal element, though such work (if it affected more than 25% of the area of the thermal element) could now trigger a requirement under Building Regulation 4A to upgrade the element. This would in turn require listed building consent. Listed building consent should normally be obtained before Building Regulations approval is sought.

Applications for listed building consent are considered by the local planning authority. For buildings listed grade I or grade II* English Heritage is consulted by the local planning authority. Government guidance to local planning authorities on how to judge listed building consent applications is set out in Planning Policy Guidance (PPG15).

Buildings in Conservation areas

In a conservation area, the main emphasis is on external appearance. Surface materials (walls and roofs) and the details of windows, doors, and rooflights are all extremely important. Although not all buildings in a conservation area will be of historic interest, many have significant internal and external features which contribute to the character of the area.

Conservation areas are designated under The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as ‘areas of special architectural or historic interest the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’. Conservation area consent is required for the demolition of unlisted buildings. Councils are obliged to consider the effect of planning applications on the character and appearance of the area. The legislation also slightly narrows the scope of work that can be completed without planning permission, importantly including the addition of external cladding and the changing of the roof line. Conservation -area designation also enables local authorities to make Article 4(2) directions which further limit permitted development. These can make it a requirement that planning permission is obtained, for such works as replacement doors and windows, and the installation of loft extensions, dormers and rooflights.

Other protection

Scheduled monuments are subject to the most stringent protection. Only very limited classes of work are permitted without specific consent.

Some local authorities also maintain a list of buildings of local architectural or historic interest as part of their development plan. This is often called a ‘local list’ or ‘supplementary list’. These lists have been subject to public consultation, and inclusion of a building is taken into account when considering applications under the Town and Country Planning Acts. Buildings in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, world heritage sites, historic battlefields and historic parks and gardens have little statutory protection if they are not also listed or in a conservation area. However, these designated areas do provide local authorities with slightly more control over ‘permitted development.’

Heritage Protection Reform

English Heritage is currently working with the Government to improve and simplify the protection regimes for the historic environment. This means that many of the protection schemes described here are likely to change in coming years. If you would like to find out more about Heritage Protection Reform you can read:

Heritage Protection Reform for the 21st Century- A White Paper

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