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Case Studies - Field House Barn – listed building

Owning a listed building brings with it a large number of responsibilities and the removal of many of the rights normally associated with improving or expanding a home.

Firstly with regard to responsibilities, there is a statutory and legal duty to protect the building and its intrinsic qualities (both inside and out) so that the special merit of the building e.g. historic and architectural is preserved for future generations.

Secondly the normal rights of homeowners to modify or extend properties are amended on listed buildings so that even the most mundane of changes would normally require at least listed building consent if not planning consent as well.

Often it is the mundane changes that homeowners wish to make, so as to enhance their living environment and to improve their quality of life, however even small changes can be thwarted by difficulties when it comes to obtaining the relevant planning and listed building consents. Once example that demonstrates such a set of circumstances is Field House Barn.

Field House Barn, together with the remainder of a group of former farm buildings were converted to residential use in the late 1990’s, and are set around a south-facing courtyard to the north of a Grade ll* listed building known as Field House.

The rear elevation of the property has minimal openings, save for one small window and a large set of doors/windows in a central position as formed by the enclosure of a historic opening.

Our client simply wanted to add an a new doorway into the rear elevation to provide ease of access from a ground floor reception room into the garden as well as letting in more light.

Foxley Tagg produced and submitted the relevant plans and supporting statements to justify the proposal with regard to planning policy and the historic context, however the Council’s Conservation Officer objected to the application given that it would, “detract from the special architectural and historic interest that the building possesses therefore it would result in the loss of historic fabric and bring a more domesticated appearance”.

We and our client considered that the addition of a solitary door would not lead to a domestication of the elevation and that such a simple doorway would not impact on the historic qualities of the building or its rural character.

The application was refused by the Council based on the Conservations Officers advice, however we submitted an Appeal in order to allow an independent Inspector to explore the merits of our case and come to an impartial judgement. After visiting the site and reviewing or the submitted material the Inspector allowed the Appeal with his summary outlining that:

“I am satisfied that the proposed works would have a neutral effect which would retain the building’s essential qualities, and that the special architectural and historic interest of this curtilage listed building would be preserved”. The impartial judgement sets out that the works were “modest in scope” and therefore would “preserve the special architectural and historical interest of the Grade II listed building”.

We are increasingly finding that listed building owners are running into protectionist conversation issues when attempting to make very minor improvements to their properties.

These issues make the pursuance of even simple projects, such as in our example, a very long winded and time consuming process. We understand that listed buildings need to be protected, however they are still homes and work places. It is therefore important to be able to strike a balance between preservation and adaption as the upkeep of our historic buildings depends on them being used and loved.

In summary simple changes or even extensions can be achieved in respect of listed buildings, however it is not always a straightforward process and can most certainly be drawn out.

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