We are carrying out increasingly more work on Listed Buildings which is a fascinating area of work requiring an understanding of history, context, local materials and techniques, crafts and culture as well as the usual combination of design skills, competence and experience.
Alterations and extensions to Listed Buildings require Listed Building Consent or combined Householder Planning Application and Listed Building Consent for the carrying out of any works whether internally, externally or within the ‘curtilage’ that would affect the building’s special architectural or historic interest.
We recommend that a pre-application consultation is had with the council as the best way forward in the first instance and this route is generally recommended by planning authorities. It is a cost effective means of obtaining an ‘in principle’ response before significant expense is incurred. Diagrammatic sketches, together with photographs, overlays and a site plan can be enough to illustrate the proposed use, scale, form, and external materials of what is proposed.
Good design can play a large part in the process. Listed Buildings need not be preserved untouched, like museum pieces but proposed changes need to be informed and justified. Preservation of the existing fabric can be coupled with a sympathetic, imaginative and ‘legible’ intervention that secures the economic sustainability of the building perhaps for several hundred more years of useful life. Alterations related to the existing historic fabric and architectural features are likely to be more controversial than an extension which can be designed to ‘read’ separately in order to minimise the impact. Similarly, an extension to the principal elevation is unlikely to be acceptable.
Applications for Listed Building Consent require to be accompanied by a Heritage Statement covering the evidential, historical, aesthetic and communal aspects of the Listed Building and what is being proposed. This has to demonstrate how there will be both ‘less than substantial harm’ and a public benefit. A specification and methodology are required to demonstrate that there will not be harm to the existing historic fabric.
At the end of the day some change is inevitable to ensure the continued use and enjoyment of Listed Buildings but professional advice from an architect is essential to avoid a missed opportunity and/or a costly mistake.