Listed building and conservation area changes

New regulations came into force in April concerning listed buildings and conservation areas. Unusually, for such changes, they appear to actually help people who own or deal with listed buildings or conservation area properties, without undue complication. The new provisions include the following.

Until now, it has not been possible to establish formally whether proposed work to a listed building needs listed building consent. This is particularly important because it is a criminal offence to undertake work without consent where it is required. Under the new provisions, it is now possible to apply for a certificate of lawfulness of proposed works. These will work like the existing lawful development certificates, which test the need for planning permission.

One problem in dealing with listed buildings is that what is considered special about the building is not defined. In future, descriptions and amendments to the list can state that structures attached to, or features of, the principal listed building, or buildings in its curtilage, are not of special interest. The intention is that listed building consent will be required only where special interest would be affected.

Demolition of unlisted buildings in conservation areas used to require separate conservation area consent. No longer. Now planning permission is needed instead. However, to maintain the status quo, failing to apply for planning permission in these circumstances is a criminal offence.

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