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How to get planning permission for alterations to a listed building

There is no secret to a good planning application. Usually, it works well when you can find a good strategy that balances your needs and those of your building. Planners and conservation officers don’t want to make your life difficult, they are looking for the best interest of your building and its future. After all, if your building is listed, that is British heritage for all to enjoy, including future generations.

But, your house is not a museum. So read further to unravel how to work on the best strategy to prepare a planning application or listed building consent for your listed building.

The step by step of a planning application of a Grade II listed

The brief for the application

First, discuss your needs with your architect. In the case study I’m taking as a reference, my client wanted internal alterations plus an extension to the garden house.

My client provided a list of his concerns and exposed his ideas over an on-site meeting. This is always the best time to tell your concerns and ideas. Don’t keep anything to yourself; the earlier your architect is aware, the better. 

Following this meeting, I proposed the scope of work and a related fee for his approval. The fee covers minor changes to the brief, but significant changes mean a new scope of work and, therefore, a further fee.

Generally, work can start as soon as the contract is signed. No advanced payment is required.

In addition, Professional Indemnity Insurance covers Historic Building Studio’s work for everyone’s peace of mind.

Research and analysis of the listed building

In general, all projects require:

  • A site visit
  • Photography to inform the reports
  • A measured survey. Please refer to this article to understand if you require a measured survey for your project.
  • A visit to the local archives
  • History and planning research

However, the scope of work is always bespoke to your building and your needs. For instance, in this case, I researched the house’s history at the British Library and the local archives. In other cases, I might need to visit the  National Archives instead.

Due to the scale of this project, the client ordered a measured survey. I defined a bespoke scope of work to request quotes. That way, we make sure the measured survey suits your project.

Objective: To understand the significance of the building and its context

The planning and historic research + analysis of the site will feed the design process.

archive image found in research for the planning permission of this grade II listed building

Work with the structural engineer and other consultants

Although I acted as an architect and heritage consultant, in this case, I can also work with your architect if you prefer.  

Similarly, I can work with your preferred structural engineer or bring one to the team. I work with structural engineers with expertise and experience with listed buildings. AKS structures was part of this project. And we are currently working with them on other projects.

For this case study, the structural engineer and the rest of the team worked collaboratively to design the best solution for the client and his building. This means the process might not be straightforward, and ideas will need to be discussed and contrasted by all the experts involved.

Objective: Put forward a proposal that works for you and your building

Considering structural considerations will avoid post-planning surprises. 

With a proposal that respects the significance of your building, your chances of obtaining planning permission increase. And you will retain the historic value of your property. 

Planning proposal

If I work as your architect and heritage consultant, I will develop a Design and Access Statement as part of the documents submitted for planning.

And if I am involved only as a heritage consultant, I will advise your architect and review their drawings and reports. While I develop the heritage documents and architectural proposals simultaneously. 

My heritage reports cover a summary of the research findings. The heritage report guides planners and conservation officers through the main elements of the building and the proposal. It clarifies the relationship between the significance of the building and the works proposed. To illustrate the points raised in the text, I include diagrams and images.

Objective: Produce the right documents for the planning application

  • Design & Access Statement
  • Heritage Statement
  • Heritage Impact Assessment
  • Existing Drawings
  • Proposed Drawings

To learn more about the documents required for a planning application of listed buildings, visit the Planning Portal website.

Diagram of listed building showing existing plan for planning
Diagram of listed building showing proposed plan for planning

Submitting the Planning application

Before submission, my client and his consultants reviewed and commented on the final draft to ensure that the submitted documents fulfilled the client’s brief.

As your architect, I act as your agent for the planning application and listed building consent. So, I upload all the reports and drawings and fill the required forms in the Planning Portal.

Following the submission, I will support you through the Validation Process. This is when the council considers whether the documents submitted are sufficient and if any amendment is required. I will respond to any council queries during that time until the application is accepted. 

Once the application has been validated, the council has eight weeks to provide an answer unless they require an extension of time.

planning permission obtained for this listed building