If you are lucky enough to own a Grade ll listed property then you are taking on a responsibility along with enjoying that privilege. That responsibility is to protect the heritage of that building and the reason why it was designated as Grade ll listed in the first place. This means that while you can own and live in a Grade ll listed building, you can’t just do anything you want with it thereafter, though there are some misconceptions about what you can and cannot do.
What is a Grade ll listed building?
Under the Planning Act 1990, a Grade ll listed building is deemed to have “special historical or cultural interest”, and this is the most common type of listed building in the UK. The two grades above it, Grade l and Grade ll* are for buildings of “exceptional historical or cultural value” and are much rarer.
In terms of residential properties these will most likely be stone farmhouses or Tudor townhouses, but could also be a castle or a former manor house, for example, or any period property of special interest, which therefore needs to be protected.
Can you renovate a Grade ll listed building?
Many people think the protected status of a listed building prevents you renovating it in any way, but that is not true. You can make significant changes to a Grade ll listed building, but you first need to obtain a Listed Building Consent (LBC) from your local authority. This is written permission from the controlling authority to carry out the changes you specifically apply for, and is designed to ensure the planned changes protect the historical and cultural value of the property. Of course, there is a chance that your application for an LBC will be rejected because the renovations you propose are unsuitable in terms of protecting the special value of the property.
What you need to consider when renovating a Grade ll listed building
- Significant works – work which can be carried out with an LBC includes:
- Exposing beams and timbers
- Removing period features
- Demolishing existing features
- Installing double-glazing
All these types of renovations can be carried out as long as you have the requisite LBC.
- Non-LBC works – smaller works that you may want to carry out, such as interior painting and making repairs to swap like-for-like materials – ie. replacing period skirting boards, rails or architraves – won’t require an LBC.
- Ask advice – where you are painting and/or stripping period beams, this is considered as part of the fabric of the property, while significant internal decorating can significantly change the character of the building, or it could be classed as protecting and maintaining the interior of the property. Equally, if you are painting over original features or timbers that have not been painted before, or over original stone, this is not likely to be acceptable. So there are considerable grey areas where it is wise to contact your local authority for advice, and an LBC may or may not be required on the back of those discussions. It is always best to be open and honest to avoid being caught out. Ultimately, your property has been listed for a reason and that is often a unique reason, so the criteria is not set in stone and differs by property, so you can find out why your property has been listed by searching the Historic England database, and with advice from your local authority can establish what work you can and cannot carry out.
- Costs – in addition to the considerable red tape involved in renovating a Grade ll listed building, it can be costly due to specialist materials the LBC insists you use, and because of the skilled tradesmen you may need to employ. You may also find there are insurance implications because inevitably, a listed building will require a specialist insurance policy, particularly if you are renovating it and changing the fabric of a historic building.
- Paint advice – if you do secure an LBC to paint over existing timbers it would be a good idea to seek specialist advice on what type of paints and what preparation you need to undertake in order to protect and maintain the features. This may even be a stipulation of the LBC.
- Penalties – renovating a property without suitable consent carries a maximum imprisonment of two years or unlimited fines, although in normal circumstances you are more likely to face a minor fine.
Contact Period Mouldings for advice on renovating a Grade ll listed building
If you require any confirmation, advice or supporting information on any of the above, please contact us at Period Mouldings and we will be happy to assist you in properly and sympathetically renovating your Grade ll listed building.