I have been getting a number of questions around what does it mean to live a listed house – so I thought I would put finger to keyboard and write a few comments for prospective owners. If I don’t cover something then let me know.
One of the things that seems to be a consistent misconception is that listing covers only the outside of the house. This is not the case – it covers everything within the property boundary. So this means that the grotty conservatory that someone put on to the house will be covered. Doesn’t matter if the house was built in 1356 and an internal wall was built out of scrap in 1952 by a blind builder – it is listed and that is it.
The key is the fact that you MAY be able to remove it – but do not pin your hopes on it. However it does seem that the planning officers are being a little more reasonable about what you can change, however it will be at their whim not yours.
However it does seem that as long as you do not remove original material from the house they may smile more on your planning. We are lucky where we live as the house works well for us in terms of layout. However if you purchased an old cob cottage that was listed and you want to pull out the internal walls, expect to be rejected.
Now the issue with all of this is that the listing itself details enough to identify the property – this is not what is listed. The other element is that is something has been changed in the property without planning permission EVEN BEFORE YOU MOVE IN, you are liable for the changes.
So for our house I spoke to the planning officer prior to moving in. He seemed reasonable that we could “modernise” things like the 1990s kitchen and a bathroom from around 1980, but if they had been original and hence rare he would of been unhappy. Sympathetic modernisation was his words.
But when it came to getting planning, we went through the our architect and he handled the relationship. This seemed to make most sense as he knew the planning officer and knew how to word things. He is supporting our changes (but the changes we are making are to bring the house back in line with what the house “should be”).
But we still haven’t received the final go-ahead. Looks as though we are not going to be finished by winter. If you buy a listed house you need to be patient and think of yourself as a caretaker rather than outright owner.