The future of Londonâ€™s last great market is in doubt!
Local authorities are responsible for dealing with planning applications. Most local authorities have a conservation officer whose job it is to make sure the historic buildings of the district or borough area looked after. However, with cuts to council budgets many conservation officers lost their jobs so in some cases a planning officer will also look after heritage issues. Your local council will be able to tell you if they have a conservation officer.
If you are concerned about a building at risk or a planning application affecting one speak to your conservation officer. If you are wanting to buy and repair a building at risk bear in mind that although the local authority and conservation officer are often the contact for these buildings, they are not estate agents and therefore will probably only be able to give you limited information about a building at risk. It will be up to you to do the rest of the research, but once you've identified a building they will be able to help you with a lot of the practical stuff.
The works which you are intending to do may require Planning Permission or Listed Building Consent. Check with your local council.
You do not always need planning permission. Generally speaking it is not required for changes to the inside of buildings, or for small alterations to the outside such as the installation of telephone connections and alarm boxes. Other small changes, for example putting up walls and fences below a certain height, have a general planning permission for which a specific application is not required. Government guidance can be found online
Listed Building Consent
Controls apply to all works, both external and internal, that would affect the special interest of a listed building, whether or not the particular feature concerned is specifically mentioned in the list description. Consent is not normally required for repairs, but, where repairs involve alterations that would affect the character of the listed building, consent is required.
Many listed buildings have very brief descriptions which can help to identify a building but do not always fully describe it. Most list descriptions in England can be found online via English Heritage's website, at the National Monuments Record in Swindon or through your local authority.
It is helpful to be familiar with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)
Owners of listed buildings are under no statutory obligation to maintain their property in a good state of repair, although it is in their interest to do so. Local authorities can, however, take action to secure repair when it becomes evident that a buildings is being allowed to deteriorate. Urgent Works Notices, Repairs Notices and Section 215 Notices can be very effective tools to helps secure the preservation of historic buildings. Stopping the Rot: a guide to enforcement action to save historic buildings is a useful English Heritage publication.
Emergency repairs can be carried out by a Local Authority following an Urgent Works Notice. These repairs can only be used on vacant buildings or vacant parts of partially used buildings. The cost of these repairs can be recovered from the owners. An Urgent Works Notice is most likely to be served where there is an immediate danger to the building and may involve making it secure, putting a temporary covering on the roof or supporting it with scaffolding. These repairs should be enough to prevent the building from collapsing before its future is resolved.
If a listed building is not being properly preserved the local authority can serve a Repairs Notice. This notice specifies work which is necessary to ensure the preservation of the building. These repairs should bring the building back into the condition it was in when it was listed, but the notice cannot be used to reinstate details lost before then.
If two months have elapsed since the Repairs Notice was served and the owner has taken no steps towards ensuring the preservation of the buildings, compulsory purchase proceedings can begin. The owner of the building is forced to sell the building at a price agreed by the district surveyor.
In the majority of cases the threat of a Repairs Notice is enough to persuade an owner to either repair or sell the building. In some cases the local authority would be willing to serve a Repairs Notice, and if necessary a CPO, if it could identify a potential new owner with a viable use and the means and understanding to undertake sympathetic repairs. In such circumstances the local authority and the new user can enter into a legal back-to-back agreement whereby the building is immediately resold to the new user following the CPO. This prevents the local authority from being saddled with the liability of the unrestored building. This new owner can be a private individual, although you may be told otherwise.
A pair of late 19th-century houses in the Prittlewell Conservation Area in Southend, Essex listed on Essex County Council's Buildings at Risk Register have been saved from demolition giving renewed hope for the future of 59 and 61 East Street.
Extensive nation-wide coverage of the new Buildings at Risk Catalogue, Dare to Care, has already begun.
Know of a building at risk? Please get in touch with SAVE's Buildings at Risk Officer with any suggestions. Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you! Please spread the word.