Thursday, 23 September 2021

Owning a listed building is all about preserving

NICK WARNER, director at Savills Henley, explains the pros and cons of owning a listed property.

NICK WARNER, director at Savills Henley, explains the pros and cons of owning a listed property.

“According to English Heritage, around 374,000 properties in England are listed. The older the building, the more likely it is to be listed.

“In England there are three grades of listing. Grade I listed buildings only account for 2.5 per cent of listed buildings and are defined as of exceptional interest, sometimes of international interest. Grade II* listed buildings account for about 5.5 per cent and are particularly important buildings of more than special interest. Grade II listed buildings, the most common, account for 92 per cent of all listed buildings and are of national importance and of special interest.

“The perception that a listed building cannot be changed is a misconception — for while the extent of change is dependent on the level of listing, listing itself is not a preservation order. It simply means that, in order to preserve and celebrate the architectural interest of a building, additional listed building consent must be granted before any works are carried out. Contravention of listed building consent is a criminal offence with no time limitation for enforcement.

“As a vendor of a listed property, if you have undertaken any works you will be required to produce evidence that those works have been granted appropriate planning permission and listed building consent before bringing your property to the market. Absence of this important documentation may well delay the selling process where interested parties may be advised to take out an indemnity policy — or even withdraw from a sale.

“As a purchaser, if you are considering buying a listed building, it is essential you are fully aware of this and some of the other responsibilities you are taking on. These include understanding that the listing can apply to both the interior as well as the exterior of a property and will cover everything in existence at the time of the listing, regardless of its age. Any manufactured object or structure within the curtilage of the site which was in existence on July 1, 1948 is also included.

“The main fabric of the interior is also controlled — this will affect the floor plan, staircases, fireplaces and so forth. It also includes the maintenance and repair of the building which must be sympathetic, undertaken using appropriate materials and by contractors with experience in working on listed buildings.

“It is little wonder that, for many, the idea of purchasing a listed building can be daunting. However, it is important to also remember that the additional effort required by a listed building does also have its benefits.

“Whilst listed properties are not for everyone, they are an important part of our heritage and, as an owner of a listed building, you are tasked as a custodian, helping to preserve their character for the benefit of future generations.”

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