Based in Kent, we often see Listed Buildings, Barns and Oast Houses that need repair or bringing up to date, this can sometimes feel like a daunting task.
What does listing mean?
Buildings that have been judged to be of special architectural or cultural significance have been placed on a ‘list.’ There are three levels of listing to all listed buildings:
- Grade II are buildings that are of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them.
- Grade II* are particularly important buildings, more than special interest
- Grade I refers to buildings of exceptional interest
These listed statuses can apply to:
- commercial buildings
…and the same rules apply.
How much is listed?
Its worth knowing that when a building is listed, the whole building is listed, including anything attached to it such as a walled garden, not just the outside or staircase! This may sound funny, but we have had clients who have made alterations to their property who were ill informed when they purchased it.
Can I modernise a listed building?
However, don’t let the listed status of a building put you off purchasing or modernising a property, there are often misconceptions around whether windows can be replaced, extensions built, or whether walls can be moved. In many cases, these alterations not only preserve the building, but also future proof them for many generations to come.
The answer in most cases is yes, but permission must first be obtained with a Listed Building Consent Application to your Local Planning Authority (LPA), this is usually a department within your local or district council. Your application and the documentation to support it inform them what you plan to do and how you will go about doing it. This can be in the form of plans, pictures of materials and details of construction methods.
My listed property is also within a conservation area
A conservation area places additional restraint on the design considerations. In these cases, a Conservation Officer may be involved.
The Conservation Officer will encourage the protection of the ‘heritage asset’ its context and the environment, however with professional negotiation (and diplomacy!) a solution is usually forthcoming.
Do I really need the help of an Architect?
Good advice is invaluable when considering works to a listed building. An Architect will help you understand and realise what you can achieve in the listed building. A Planning Consultant will also be useful in negotiating with the Planning Department. Both will be able to help you choose the best path and advise on all planning matters.
How much will it cost?
It goes without saying, owning and modernising a listed building using traditional methods can be costly. Some methods are a dying art form. However, these methods may not cost anymore then standard forms of construction unless they are particularly specialist e.g. thatching or complicated iron work.
Working with a listed commercial building
Of course, there will always be challenges when working with listed buildings, in our experience working on historical buildings such as this
Grade II Listed Old Power Station in Tonbridge, Kent, has been a pleasure to learn its history and what important aspects need to be kept when transforming it into modern residential units.
The challenge of preserving the external appearance while designing 4 duplex apartments and maintaining some of the original features of the building such as the red crane boom, where an extremely rewarding parts of this project.
Working on a listed school
Our experience in listed buildings also extends to the education sector.
This Grade I listed school required a new dining room and swimming pool constructed within a historical brick garden wall enclose.
The site itself had a steep gradient which meant that it was constructed over three levels. There was also the challenge of protecting the historically significant wall. Throughout construction ongoing maintenance and re-pointing needed to take place, with Historic England and the Local Planning Authority (LPA) keeping a close eye on the project.
Working on a listed house
Listed homes are probably our most common Listed Building Project.
This modernisation of a Grade II Listed home required a new conservatory, kitchen/ dining room and utility room. The LPA supported the protection of the heritage asset in this sympathetic design, maintaining the character of the building while creating a new design feature.