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Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas- guidance to assist your buyers

Napthens - March 30th 2017

Conservation areas and listed building controls exist to protect properties and places of special architectural or historic interest.  For that reason property prices in conservation areas can be higher and demand for such properties increased. But, what do you need to know when marketing a property that is either listed, or located in a conservation area?

As an estate agent you may be familiar with the areas in your location which are classed as conservation areas. When carrying out appraisals in these areas it may be worth asking a vendor if the property has also been listed. This information can then be included in the sales particulars and be drawn to the attention of prospective buyers at the earliest opportunity. Sellers should be asked to provide copies of any listing and any documentation relating to works undertaken at the property. This can save time during the conveyancing process.

Local search

When it comes to the legal work, the results of a local search will provide details as to whether a conservation area status or listed building applies. This search result however is often received well into the process and offering the information to prospective buyers at an early stage can allow further enquiries to be made about the potential restrictions and liabilities they may be subject to.

What is a Conservation Area?

A conservation area is designated by a local authority to protect its special characteristics. There are currently around 10000 conservation areas in England. They typically tend to be the centres of historic towns and villages, fishing and mining villages and 18th-20th century suburbs.

What does it mean to own a property in a conservation area?

There are a number of factors to consider when purchasing a property in a conservation area. The main ones relate to making alterations or developing a property. Conservation areas can mean extra requirements and planning conditions which need to be met to make sure the property stays in keeping with the area. For example, the replacing of windows or demolition of a building would need conservation area consent.  Trees within conservation areas are also protected and the local authority must be notified before they are cut down or lopped - this relates to all trees and not just those individually protected under a Tree Preservation Order.

Listed Buildings

Many properties in Conservation Areas are also listed. The listing is specific to the individual property and details the features of the property which are of special architectural interest. Listed buildings fall into 3 categories, Grade I, Grade II* and Grade II. Most residential properties are Grade II listed. When undertaking any repair or renovation work to a listed property, advice should be sought from the local authority conservation officer. Listed Building Consent is required in addition to the usual requirement for planning permission and building regulation approval.

 What should a buyer look out for if a property is listed?

When buying a property a buyer will need to ascertain that any works undertaken have the appropriate permission, whether that is conservation area consent, planning permission or listed building consent. If not, this will need to be dealt with, usually by means of a retrospective application to the local authority. There are no time limits on enforcement action by a local authority for listed buildings so even if works were undertaken many years ago it is essential that the correct permissions were applied for.

A buyer may also need to consider what works they want to do to the property and consider whether permission will be granted. It may be worth checking with the local authority who can offer specific guidance.

If you do need any further information on this subject please speak to a member of the Napthens residential property team.