There are around 500,000 listed buildings in England and Wales, and for around 6% of those buildings (Grade I and Grade II* Listed Buildings) the property owners require permission from Historic England and their local authority before they can begin to make alterations on it. For Grade II Listed buildings there is a requirement for a conservation officer from the local authority to confirm that all plans are acceptable before commencing with any alteration project. Working with contractors and architects who understand listed buildings and how older buildings can affect a project is vitally important to any planning application for alterations.
There is a difference between ‘normal’ planning applications for alterations to properties and those relating to listed buildings. The former deals in facts, whilst there is often a judgment and opinion that decides whether a planning application for a listed building is successful or not.
In advance of putting together a planning application for a listed building, it is therefore vitally important to fully understand the reasons the building was listed in the first place and if any previous alterations have taken place, why was this and how did it affect the integrity of the building? A specialist consultant can take a look at these aspects of a listed building, looking at each element that you wish to alter and working out how integral each is to the listed status and whether it is likely to be accepted as part of the planned alterations. Always have in mind that any alterations that remove a part of, or wholly, something of historic significance, is likely to be rejected outright.
With this in mind it might be best to put together one large application should there be a number of small alterations that you wish to put together as part of your planning application. Once an independent contractor has looked at the likelihood of success, you can include those that seem worthy of acceptance and leave out those controversial elements.
An application is more likely to be accepted is the owner is committed to the property for the long-term and that the original use of the listed building is still active. If you do intend to change the original use of the building there has to be substantial evidence as to why the original use cannot be maintained, and how the changes will impact on the integrity of the listed building as a whole.
Working with those consultants that have an eye for detail and a love for historic buildings will be advantageous in these situations as it will provide the decision makers with the confidence that any alterations will be conducted with the utmost respect for the traditions and original use of the listed building in question. They will have a full understanding of how to work with old buildings that can throw up some specific problems during alteration work, whilst using the correct materials to preserve the aesthetic beauty of the building.