If you’ve got your eye on a listed property or already live in a listed home, you’ll need to be up to speed on the consents required for renovation. These special buildings need a little extra attention, but with the right professional help, you can create a home that is both truly one-of-kind and fully equipped to handle the demands of contemporary living.

What is a listed status?
Listing is a Statutory Protection given to the best of Britain’s historic properties to ensures that great buildings from the past survive intact. It also confers added value, as many buyers are attracted by the idea of living in a home of historic importance.There are different grades of listing. By far the largest number of listed properties falls in the Grade II category, including almost all private homes, meaning that major alterations are subject to the consent of the local planning authority. Grade II* is a status given to finer houses, more often with intact interiors, and planning decisions on these are made by the local authority under English Heritage guidance. Grade I status is generally for buildings of the finest quality that have survived with few alterations, or with alterations that are as good in their own way as the original. For these, few if any changes other than careful repairs and updating services are likely to be permitted by English Heritage. Listed status covers a whole building, bothinside and out. As a result, common works requiring consent might include the replacement of windows or doors, knocking down internal walls, painting over brickwork or altering fireplaces.

Essential check list
If you are considering buying a listed property, make sure you commission a full structural survey so that you have a good understanding of the building’s current state. Alterations or extensions that affect a property’s appearance or character require listed building consent from your local planning authority, as well as standard planning permission. Speak to a specialist conservation architect and interior design team to better understand the limitation and potential of a property before exchanging contracts, to ensure the changes you envisage are possible. You can also seek advice and guidance from Minor alterations such as kitchen and bathroom updates on a Grade II listed building will not normally require permission, or Listed Building Consent, unless they involve demolition. ‘If you are improving a listed building, always study its style, age and materials, and consider how the building would have originally been used,’ suggests architect Ian Pedley of Michael Jones Architects, currently working with Studio Westmaas on the renovation of a Grade II listed property in Holland Park. ‘It’s important that the original building retains its integrity, and for any new work to complement it. Use professionals such as specialist architects, interior designers, surveyors, engineers and tradespeople with extensive experience in building conservation.’

Ring the changes with care

Over-scaled extensions can be a problem in listed properties. Try to propose alterations that sit well within the property’s current structure. Sympathetically designed alterations and appropriate extensions usually win approval without great difficulty. One tip is to spend a little time in the local library and public archives. It’s surprising how many photographs, maps and drawings are available, showing how your listed building has changed over the years. This is invaluable in suggesting how the building can continue to evolve. Remember too that traditional building materials and construction methods are very different to modern ones, so sealing a building up, installing high tech heating systems or insulating it in the wrong way can result in permanent damage. Instead, consider simple but effective solutions such as window shutters and wood burners as alternative eco-friendly measures. English Heritage and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) are both brilliant resources offering advice, listings information, consent details and addressing all aspects of repairing old buildings. To find out more about how we at Studio Westmaas work with listed buildings, please click here. And if you have questions about your project, please feel free to get in touch.

Image courtesy of Michael Jones Architects – A Studio Westmaas and Michael Jones Architects collaboration.

Words by Emma J Page