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Planning application for a Grade II* in Wandsworth

This is the story of the planning application for a new back extension in a Grade II* listed in Wandsworth. An example of how change is possible for listed buildings is if this is done strategically.

A planning application for a new back extension in a Grade II* listed building

The Grade II* semi-detached house is a testimony to its Victorian past—a survival from the Italianate villas facing Putney Hill.

The owners wanted to improve the space towards the garden. They aspired for kitchen and dining to accommodate family and friends. Unaware of the planning challenges of a Grade II*, their first proposal ignored the significance of the building. Wandsworth Council refused their planning permission and listed building consent. 

Advised by the conservation officer at Wandsworth council, the client’s architect reached for the aid of a heritage consultant to collaborate on the project. The clients selected Historic Building Studio to participate in the redesign of the proposal for a revised planning application.

My scope of work included:

  • The photography of the house during the initial meeting
  • Advice to amend and develop the proposal
  • Commenting on the architect’s drawings and report
  • Preparing the heritage report (Heritage statement + Impact assessment)
Street view of grade II star listed building part of a planning application is adjacent building by same architect
The adjacent terrace houses share common features and are by the same architect.

First steps of the planning application

My initial work stages always relate to understanding the context. It is essential to recognise any constraints beyond the listed status. For instance, the reports should address particular requirements in conservation areas, areas of outstanding Natural Beauty, etc. The site in question is in the Wandsworth Archaeological Priority Area.

Although an archaeological assessment isn’t compulsory for planning applications of minor developments, the proposed back extension required excavation. Therefore, the heritage statement included a desk-based evaluation that noted how to compensate for the excavation risk and demonstrated the proposal’s care for detail.

Research prior defining the proposal for the planning application

Following the work on the context and its constraints, Historic Building Studio backs up these data with site analysis and research. The site analysis happens on the initial visit with the support of photographic records. The study also involves archive and past planning applications.

Staff at Wandsworth Heritage Service provided a series of crucial resources. Firstly, the historic drainage map. This provided the name of the builder of the house. And secondly, old journals with pictures of the house. The combination of site observation and research was essential to understanding and defining the architectural and historic significance of the building.

Research and analysis shouldn’t be underestimated. They are the backbone of the proposal and the preparation of the heritage documents for planning.

Historic image of the back of the house part of Wandsworth history
Journal illustration of the grade II star listed building part of Wandsworth history
Historic images informed the new design for the back extension.

A planning application considers the significance of the Grade II*

Significance is critical when developing a proposal for a planning application, especially of a Grade II*. Although the planning application only involved half of the building, Historic Building Studio assessed the significance of the semi-detached as part of a whole. In this case, the building’s significance was historical rather than architectural. Its association with a literature figure brings the merit of the building to its Grade II* status.

The research confirmed the significance lived mainly on its recognisable front façade. Its volume, bricks’ colour, and symmetrical composition had been captured in newspapers for years. The view of the front facade brings the passer-by a piece of Victorian Putney.

The interior appears in quite good condition today. Only some historic features were lost before it was listed. Most of its changes were related to a previous back extension. Features like fireplaces, cornices and the balustrade to the main staircase are essential contributors to the architectural significance of the building.

Impact to significance: key to the planning application

The heritage report is an essential part of a planning application for a listed building. The lack of this document stopped planners from approving the previous submission.

The Heritage Statement explained how the proposal follows the local policies. It describes how the new works are concentrated in a previously refurbished area. Removing harmful past additions was a great part of the strategy.

The proposal was re-design along with the development of the heritage report. Rather than the report being an afterthought or a tick box exercise in submitting a planning application. 


A planning application for a Grade 2 star listed building appeared like a big challenge. But the presence of a previous extension, lacking the required quality for a listed building, was the opportunity for a new proposal. Still, the new back extension needed a design and scale aligned with  Wandsworth’s policies.

This proposal obtained planning permission and listed building consent. It was respectful of the significance of the building. The proposed alterations focused on areas where the grade 2 star building had already lost historic features. \And the new back extension improved the existing extension in terms of materiality and use of the building.

Are you a homeowner with a similar case? Or maybe an architect or interior designer that would benefit from heritage expertise? Visit the service page that is right for you, or contact me to discuss your specific case.

Historic Building Studio case study acting as heritage consultant for grade 2 star listed builing