PPS 9: The Enforcement of Planning Control
Additional planning controls and enforcement: Listed buildings and conservation areas
11.1 Where a building is listed, the 1991 Planning Order provides that the consent of the Department is required for its demolition and for any works of alteration or extension in any manner which would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. This is referred to as ‘listed building consent’ 1 and it is an offence to carry out such works without consent or to fail to comply with the terms of any condition attached to such a consent.
11.2 The Department attaches great importance to the protection of listed buildings and in assessing proposals affecting such buildings is required to have “special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses” (Article 45(1) of the 1991 Planning Order). In this respect it is recognised that the special interest and unique character of listed buildings can be lost just as surely by their unsuitable alteration as by their outright demolition.
11.3 Conservation area designation introduces control over the demolition of unlisted buildings within conservation areas (Article 51 of the 1991 ( Planning Order). Anyone wishing to demolish a building must first apply to the Department for “conservation area consent” and it is an offence to carry out such work without consent.
11.4 The prime consideration for the Department in the exercise of its planning functions within a conservation area is that “special attention shall be paid to the desirability of preserving or enhancing its character or appearance.” (Article 50 (5) of the 1991 Planning Order). In this respect it is recognised that the demolition of even a single building and the construction of a new building or buildings in its place could result in the character or appearance of a conservation area, or part of it, being severely prejudiced. In such circumstances the whole purpose of designating the conservation area could be undermined.
11.5 Accordingly where either of the following actions are undertaken:
- the unauthorised demolition of a listed building; or
- the unauthorised demolition of an unlisted building within a conservation area;
the Department will normally pursue direct court action. A person guilty of such an offence is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or alternatively on conviction on indictment to an unlimited fine. In determining the amount of the fine on conviction on indictment the court shall have particular regard to any financial benefit which has accrued or is likely to accrue to the offender as a consequence of the offence.
11.6 Where other unauthorised works are undertaken which adversely affect the special interest or character of a listed building the Department may also pursue direct court action.
11.7 Where a listed building is demolished without consent or other unauthorised works take place which adversely affect the special interest or character of a listed building, the 1991 Planning Order makes provision for the Department to serve a listed building enforcement notice where it considers it expedient to do so having regard to the effect of the works on the character of the building and provided the unauthorised works occurred on or after 9th December 1978. Any such notice will specify the alleged contravention and one of the following:
- the steps required to restore the building to its former state; or
- the steps to alleviate the effect of the unauthorised works where restoration is considered to be impractical or undesirable; or
- the steps required to bring the building to the state in which it would have been if the terms and conditions of any listed building consent which has been granted had been fulfilled.
Similar provisions exist for the service of an enforcement notice for the unauthorised demolition of a building within a conservation area.
11.8 Where any person fails to comply with the requirements of such enforcement notices they are guilty of an offence and the Department will normally pursue court action. On summary conviction that person is liable to a fine with the potential for continuing daily fines.
1 In addition to listed building consent, planning permission is also required where the works proposed to a listed building involve 'development'. Advice on this matter may be obtained from Divisional Planning Offices.