On 6 April 2014, the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 came into effect, resulting in amendments to the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. The ERR Act has resulted in some changes to the current framework of heritage protection which, according to English Heritage, ‘are aimed at making protection more efficient and effective’. Just to makes sense of these changes, I have included a brief summary below. Further information on each of the new measures can be found by hovering over the titles and clicking the links.
These (optional) certificates can be sought by those planning works to a listed building, or other designated heritage asset, when it can be demonstrated that the works do not affect the special architectural or historic interest. The effect of the Certificate, issued by the Local Authority, is to confirm that the proposed works do not require a formal Listed Building Consent Application. It should be noted that a Certificate cannot be sought for demolition and is only valid for 10 years.
The intention behind these Certificates is to reduce the number of formal Listed Building Consent applications by providing an option to remove those for minor works. However, I’m sure I don’t need to outline the difficulties of making judgements of impact on character etc. from applicant submissions that will be de facto scantier than for full LBC applications. Caveant consilia.
Informal agreements along these lines have been promoted by English Heritage in the past, but the ERR Act puts them on a statutory footing. The HPA will comprise an agreement between the Local Authority and the building owner for a period of years that permits Listed Building Consent to specified alteration (or extension, but not demolition) to a designated heritage asset or group of assets.
LCBOs can be granted by the Secretary of State, following mandatory consultation with EH, to grant Listed Building Consent to specified works (again excluding demolition) to any designated heritage assets covered by the Order. In practice, this is intended to be relevant for standardised building types that might cross regions or Local Authority boundaries.
In my view, the application of these Orders should necessarily be limited, as there are few buildings that can be said to be so totally removed from their local or regional architectural and social context that individual works should not be individually assessed. However, the Canal & River Trust are currently piloting an LCBO scheme for the repair of standard canal locks.
As for national LBCOs above, the intention of the local orders is to permit Listed Building Consent for specified works of alteration or extension (not demolition) to specified designated heritage assets within a Local Authority’s area. Again, this should only be applicable where a ‘class’ of asset along with a set of predictable or repetitive works can be readily identified. In order to avoid inappropriate works carried out under a thinly-woven blanket consent, it will be absolutely vital that extensive historical analysis of the assets and their individual contexts is undertaken for all the assets intended to be covered.
The measures above coming into force on 6 April 2014 can be added to those measures from the ERR Act that came into effect last year, which include the following:
Amendments to Listed Building Entries
As of 25 June 2013, it has been possible for new list entry descriptions or amendments to state that any given feature(s) of a listed building, or a structure forming part of it or its curtilage, is not of special interest.
Though the intention is again to reduce the number of LBC applications for elements of listed buildings that might be unremarkable, but the keen-eyed will realise that this is rather a perilous judgement. We are fairly well alerted these days that heritage fashion and appreciation ebbs and flows, care should be exercised that some building element is not simply written-off on the whims of the time. Experience would suggest that it is rather difficult to avoid such influence, which is why blanket listing enables careful consideration in each individual case.
Replacement of Conservation Area Consent
From 1 October 2013, the requirement for Conservation Area Consent for demolition of unlisted buildings within Conservation Areas has been removed and the application is now subsumed within a normal planning permission application.
From 25 June 2013, it has been possible for Certificates of Immunity to be applied for at any time, whereas previously this was only possible where the building was subject to a planning application.