In July the Department of Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) launched a consultation seeking views on various options aimed at improving the system of listed buildings consents (LBCs).
For anyone caught up in Olympic fever or on holiday getting Brahmsed, as they say in Stratford, this might well have passed under the radar – especially as the consultation period ended on 23 August (blink, or drink, and you missed it).
I won’t dwell on the detail here - follow the link to the consultation if you’d like to know more.
In short, DCMS asked for views on these options for speeding up the process:-
· A system of prior notification leading to deemed LBC.
· A system of local and national class consents granting deemed LBC.
· A “certificate of lawful works to Listed Buildings” issued either before or after they’ve been carried out.
· Replacing local authority conservation officer recommendations for LBC by those made by accredited agents, if LBC applicants wish to do so.
The consultation also sought views on new or improved measures to address building neglect, which may or may not include legislative change.
The aim is to simplify the system by reducing the circumstances in which LBC is required and cutting down the information applicants have to submit, reducing the burdens on developers and allowing authorities to focus on the highest risk buildings.
The British Property Federation (BPF) published its response at the end of last week.
The BPF is broadly supportive of the proposals, although it too was surprised at the timing and brevity of the consultation (four weeks rather than the more usual twelve) and hopes DCMS will consider any late representations.
The BPF doesn’t think the proposals go far enough however and suggests some better ways of dealing with the system.
It also wants English Heritage to continue the process of re-examining and clearly defining listing entries.
Listing can seem a highly subjective process.
More information on how it works is provided on the English Heritage website.
English Heritage says that post-1945 buildings have to be exceptionally important to be listed, and they make up only 0.2% of the listed buildings total.
The vast majority of buildings listed are pre-1900. All buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition are listed, as are most of those built between 1700 and 1840.
Of those buildings listed, 92% are Grade II (nationally important and of special interest), 5.5% are Grade II* (particularly important of more than special interest) and 2.5% are Grade I (of exceptional interest, sometimes internationally important).
At the moment, if a building is listed, you have to apply to the local authority for LBC before making any changes to the building that might affect its special interest.
We’ll have to wait until DCMS publishes its follow-up to the consultation to have more idea of how the system will be changed.