What is a heritage consultant in relation to a listed building?
In general terms, a Heritage consultant provides expertise on listed buildings to solve issues related to the management, construction, development, or conservation. Therefore, their work expands from analysis to assessment and advice and varies greatly depending on the case study.
Historic Building Studio focuses on listed homes, but other heritage consultancies work with different types of heritage assets. For instance, archaeological sites, monuments, and non-listed historic buildings and structures.
Is your building listed?
One of the first things a heritage consultant can do is confirm if your building is listed and its implications.
You might be able to check if your building is listed by checking Historic England’s List. However, the listing of a building does not end with the elements noted in Historic England’s description. Heritage protection extends to those elements fixed to it and certain buildings or structures within the same land, known as curtilage.
So, a heritage consultant can be good guidance when you are unclear about what the listing of your building implies or if certain surrounding buildings are protected by the listing.
Your heritage mediator
You could think about your heritage consultant as your mediator. The translator between the needs of your listed building – built at a very different time in history and materials – and your lifestyle. Forcing modern notions and construction systems won’t do any good to your listed building.
Instead, you can find an alternative strategy that works for you and your building. Historic site analysis and research will contribute to understanding the peculiarities of your building. Working with you will define a brief that helps you successfully to achieve your aims without losing historic value.
Advice when buying a listed building
Some people stay away from buying listed buildings because of the associated challenges. But living in a listed building can be a very fulfilling experience. As the architect Buckminster Fuller told the artist Isamu Noguchi, historic buildings enrich our society by offering us to experience the past in the present.
Nevertheless, having the support of a heritage consultant through the buying process could reassure you that your choice is a good match for you. It could offer a better understanding of the compatibility between your plans and the possibilities of your future listed building. As well as showing you clarity on previous unauthorised alterations and how to solve them.
Design advice for listed buildings
If you love your listed building, but there is something that doesn’t seem to work for you and your family. Is it the best option for your building? Is there an alternative and more suitable way to achieve the same result? If you think there is potential for improvement, a heritage consultant could offer you impartial advice.
Designs to listed buildings, from extensions to layout redesigns, require extra expertise that your ordinary architect might not have. You could either support your architect’s work with a heritage consultant or hire an architect with knowledge of historic buildings.
A design that preserves the historic character of your property will maintain its value and increase your chances of getting planning permission or listed building consent. A robust proposal that considers the peculiarities of your building and its area.
Heritage reports for planning applications
Like when buying, works in listed buildings can come with its own challenges. Your heritage consultant can produce the documents required to achieve planning permission. From drawings to Heritage Statements, Heritage Impact Assessments or Design and Access Statements.
And acting as your agent, it could also submit reports and drawings to achieve a certificate of lawfulness, planning permission and listed building consent.
Preserving historical value while allowing change
A heritage consultant could answer your questions at different stages in your relationship with your listed building, from before buying to rethinking the spaces, obtaining permission, and getting the work done. Explore what suits you better while maintaining the historical value of your building.