Combined expertise of lawyers and architects helps developers negotiate listed building laws

Published: 24/07/2012

Birketts and architects Purcell hosted two seminars to provide a greater understanding of the complicated laws around listed building control to developers contemplating regeneration projects in the region and to show what can be achieved.

Listed buildings provide attractive regeneration opportunities, but many developers are deterred from taking on projects to sympathetically develop historic sites due to a lack of information on what can be perceived as ‘draconian’ listed building control.

Speakers helped over 75 delegates who attended the seminars in Cambridge and Norwich, to understand and interpret listed building legislation including building consent, appeal procedures and enforcement notices.

Key speakers explained that the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill presently before parliament will, if it becomes law, help by giving power to include in listing details a note that certain parts of the building are not of special architectural or historic interest and certain fixtures or curtilage structures are not to be treated as listed. New “heritage partnership agreements” for listed buildings could include similar stipulations. 

Architects Paul Kings, Jeremy Blake and Heather Lindsay from Purcell also stressed the benefits of producing a thorough historical appraisal, which covers the architectural history of the building, its development and significance, before submitting any planning application.

Paul Kings, Associate at Purcell, said: “The need to completely understand any historic building or site ahead of developing proposals is paramount.  Purcell always starts every project by researching the site and building so as to identify its levels of ‘significance’.  This in turn informs how the proposals are developed ensuring the historic character of the site or building is not adversely affected.  It also helps smooth the planning permission and listed building consent application process and generally avoids the proposals being questioned at a later date.”

Both firms also looked at potential sensitive or difficult issues which can arise during the process of achieving listed building consent including ensuring the settings around the heritage buildings are taken into account. The regeneration and development of the old docklands in Stoke Quay in Ipswich was used as one case study example.

Following the success of the seminars, and the interest shown, Birketts and Purcell are considering the possibility of jointly running further workshops to provide advice to developers interested in sympathetically regenerating and developing heritage buildings in the region.

Tom Newcombe, senior associate at Birketts, who chaired the events, said: "We were delighted to co-host these seminars with Purcell, who provided some fascinating examples of the work they do and the benefits of a comprehensive appraisal of any heritage asset before development. There were also interesting questions and post seminar discussions - certainly fuel for further seminars on similar topics."

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