While listed buildings are often attractive, brimming with character and desirable purchases, they can come with potential headaches for the new owners. Listed buildings do not enjoy the freedom associated with new-builds. Often, listed cottages and buildings come with certain restrictions - it's part of the privilege of owning a dwelling that holds historic interest. These can include higher insurance premiums, when compared to non-listed buildings, and the requirement for special permission to be granted for works to be undertaken on the property such as the building of an extension, alterations on its outside or internal layout changes.
However, there is the option to challenge the building's listed status.
Why are Buildings Listed?
Before you consider having your property removed from the list of heritage buildings', it's worth understanding why it might have been put there in the first place. According to the National Heritage Trust, which is the organisation responsible for publishing and maintaining the list of designated properties, "a building is listed when it is of special architectural or historical interest, in the national context".
There are estimated to be around half a million listed buildings in the UK, the majority of which were built between 1700 and 1940. To qualify for the list, the building must be in a condition close to the one in which it was built. While there are newer listed buildings, these must demonstrate unique or remarkable features in order to make the grade. You can find out whether a property is listed and what criteria engendered its listing, by searching the National Heritage List for England.
Delisting a Property
Delisting a property is not an easy undertaking. Typically, only around 50% of applications are approved and the review process is a lengthy one. However, if you feel that your building qualifies to be delisted, there are certain procedures you should follow.
The first step is to register with Heritage England. To support your case, you will need to provide evidence that proves the building doesn't meet the criteria to be deemed a listed building. This can include photographic evidence and surveys and you may find you need the services of a conveyancing specialist, to present all the details for review.
In some circumstances, however, this will not be necessary, such as in a case where the property has been destroyed and the potential for any repair or restoration has been entirely eliminated.
The repairs and restoration clause may even extend to fabrics used, so the property will have to be beyond any help before it can be considered for delisting and permission granted for a new one to be put in its place. In any event, the cause of the damage will always be investigated.
Will my Application be considered?
There is also the option to argue that the original listing was not warranted. However, any application for delisting will only be considered in the first 28 days after the list has been published. With this in mind, it's worth preparing your case before the publication date, as it can be a lengthy process. In addition, you'll find that there are certain conditions under which an application is unlikely to be considered. These include:
¥ If building works are shortly to be undertaken
¥ The building has had a notice of repairs served on it
¥ The building is the subject of an appeal against refusal of consent
Why Delist a Building?
Successfully delisting a building can give the owner some advantages. You may find that your insurance premiums are reduced, and it could be that you won't need to source particular materials when it comes to repairs and maintenance.
However, the process can take around five months and incur significant expense. Despite this, delisting applications are made on a daily basis by property owners who want to free themselves from the restrictions levied on buildings that are deemed to be of historical or architectural interest.