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Listed Buildings: what are your obligations as an owner?

View profile for Elizabeth Sugden (nee Simpson)
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Owning a Listed Building comes with some in-built obligations in terms of repairs and upkeep. While there is no specific duty on property owners to maintain their buildings in a good state of repair, your Local Planning Authority does have powers to take action if it considers that a historic building has deteriorated to the extent that its future preservation may be at risk.

Listed building enforcement notices

In these circumstances above, the Local Planning Authority can serve one of two listed building notices:
1. Urgent Works Notice
2. Repairs Notice.

Urgent Works Notice 

Under section 54 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, the Local Planning Authority may serve a notice requesting that the owner to undertake those works considered necessarily for the preservation of the property. 
An Urgent Works Notice is a direct way of securing urgent listed building repairs to preserve that building. The notice often only covers urgent works to keep the wind and weather out and, if the building is occupied, the works may be carried out only to those parts of the building not in use. 
If the owner fails to carry these works within seven days of the written notice, the authority has permission to execute the works and to recover the cost of these works from the owner.

Repairs Notice

Under section 48 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, the Local Authority may serve a Repairs Notice on the owner. This notice is concerned with the long term conservation of a listed building. This notice will specify the works which the Authority considers reasonably necessary for the proper preservation of the building.  This is not restricted to urgent works. 
If the work has not taken place two months after the repairs notice has been served, the authority can start compulsory purchase order proceedings (under Section 47 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990). These notices are usually only served by the Local Authority if the authority is prepared to buy the building. 
In order for the Local Authority to start compulsory purchase proceedings:
  • The building must be in disrepair
  • The owner must be shown to be unwilling or unable to carry out the repairs themselves
  • It must be shown the building will be better off in the ownership of the Local Authority or the person who the authority intends to hand it over to. 
If a compulsory purchase order is sought, compensation based on the open market value is paid to the owner of the building. Minimum compensation may be provided if the Local Authority considers that the owner of the building has deliberately allowed the building to fall into disrepair to justify its demolition and secure the redevelopment of the site.

Listed building repairs

Although the Local Planning Authority encourages owners of listed buildings to keep them in good repair, there is no actual duty on owners to do so. However, failure to stop the building from falling into a state of advanced decay may expose the owner to the risk of being served a repairs notice, and ultimately a compulsory purchase order.
It is important to note that, if you are required to repair or carry out works to a listed building, grants for the repair of buildings of outstanding architectural or historic interest may be available from English Heritage. VAT is also zero-rated for approved alterations with Listed Building Consent from the Council.
Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors can advise you. If you have any queries about how we can help you, please contact our Agricultural Team and Landed Estates Team who will be able to discuss the next steps with you 01653 600070.