Can I put an extension on a listed building?

A listed building is one that is legally protected for heritage reasons and there are three types in England and Wales: grade I, grade II* and grade II.

Only a small number of listed buildings are considered so valuable that building an extension isn’t possible. Extending a grade II building is usually viable, especially if you take expert advice.

How to get the ball rolling

Your local council’s conservation officer will be able to explain whether consent is required for what you are proposing.

Establishing good relationships with your neighbours, planning officers and specialist professionals will also help to make the process run more smoothly.

Another issue to resolve at an early stage is whether listed status covers the interior of the property, because you may need planning permission to knock down internal walls.

The importance of listed building consent

As well as planning permission you will need listed building consent (LBC) for your extension. Both applications will be handled by your local authority and it’s often more efficient to tackle the two things at the same time.

Pressing ahead without LBC can be costly and counter-productive. People who flout the rules face having to demolish the extension and repair any damage to the remainder of the building. On top of this, there is a heavy fine and – in extreme cases – a jail sentence of up to 12 months.

Listed building applications are not ‘one-size-fits-all’

It’s important to keep in mind that proposals passed by one local authority may be refused by another. This is because the rules are not standardised nationally and much hinges on the interpretation of local authority conservation officers.

Moreover, there are other categories of protected buildings – such as buildings of local historic interest – that are ‘listed’ by the council. If you want to extend a building in one of these categories, the rules are somewhere between listed buildings and normal buildings. Other potential restrictions may also need to be addressed, depending on the specific building, location and other factors.

What is needed – in a nutshell

A listed building extension should:

  • demonstrate a grasp of the significance of the building and its environment
  • minimise any harm to the heritage aspects
  • represent a secondary element of the the overall structure
  • use quality design and craftsmanship to add value

Shifting attitudes to listed building extensions

Recent years have seen the emergence of a new school of thought which means new extensions to period buildings do not necessarily need to use exactly the same materials – although this remains the case for repair and maintenance projects.

Current thinking is that a difference in style will make it easier to distinguish between the old and new elements. Although this presents design challenges, it also enables you to use modern construction techniques along with more energy efficient materials.

This answer is a guide only. Developing an understanding of what is unique or special about the listed building is crucial to producing a design that satisfies the planning and LBC rules. Jones Melling has a team of specialists who can advise you on the best course of action.

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