Historic structures are often expensive to maintain and there is a risk they fall vacant and are left to decay. The same risk occurs if a building becomes redundant. Whether buildings are listed or not, the responsibility for their care and upkeep lies with the owner. Together with the local planning authority (LPA), the owner must play a part in ensuring their protection whilst keeping the property in use.
Requests to have a building listed should be sent to Historic England who will then decide whether it is of sufficient architectural or historic interest to justify this. If the owner of a listed building is unhappy that their property has been listed they can write to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport within 28 days of notification and request that the decision be reconsidered.
The LPA can serve what is called a “Building Preservation Notice” on buildings of historical or architectural interest under threat which are not listed. The building will then be protected for six months. The preservation notice gives the same level of protection to the building as for listed buildings. During the six month period the LPA can ask for it to be listed. Compensation may be payable to the owner if the request for listing is refused, so these notices are served sparingly.
If a listed building is not being properly maintained, then the LPA can compulsorily purchase it after serving what is called a “Repairs Notice” which gives the owner an opportunity to carry out the necessary works to avoid the need for compulsory purchase.
Maintenance and Repair
Care of a historic building or monument is based on good maintenance, keeping in working order all features and systems which contribute to its protection from adverse conditions. If you own a listed building you should inspect it regularly and ensure all necessary maintenance is carried out. If necessary you should seek professional help with this.
Components which have failed, or no longer perform their necessary protective or structural function, require repair. This usually entails replacement of some or all parts of a building element with materials which are compatible with the historic structure as a whole. In other instances, it may require treatment by specialist conservation contractors.
There is now a developed body of conservation expertise, based on years of applied practice. A comprehensive suite of guidance is provided in Historic England’s recently revised series of Practical Building Conservation.
Listed building consent may be needed for repairs
Listed building consent will be required if a repair to the listed building would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. Many repairs will not affect the character of the building but repairs using like-for-like materials may still require consent because such repairs may still affect the special interest of the building. For instance the removed materials may themselves hold historic interest and significance. If in doubt, the Local Planning Authority should be contacted for advice.
Can I get a grant for repairs to a listed building?
In exceptional cases, grants may be available from Historic England for repairs to listed buildings. Historic England grants are usually only available for urgent repairs or other work which would prevent loss or damage. Grants can only be offered if your project involves a certain type of historic property – for example Grade I or Grade II* listed buildings (although in London certain categories of Grade II listed buildings can be considered). LPAs may also give grants to owners of listed buildings but their schemes will vary.