The Listed Home Renovation {5 Tips For Getting Planning Permission For a Grade 2 Listed Building}

As we’ve now almost completed the extension on our listed home; I suddenly thought that it might be useful to talk about the planning process. Getting planning permission for a Grade 2 listed building isn’t as straightforward as for a regular house. So it’s definitely worth bearing a few things in mind.

There are definitely certain things we did, to help along the process. Which made things feel a little easier than we’d anticipated.

Here are some things we did, that may help you too.

5 Tips For Getting Planning Permission For a Grade 2 Listed Building
Our house — a year ago today!
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

5 Tips For Getting Planning Permission For a Grade 2 Listed Building

1. Research Your Local Area

We had always wanted to extend our home. But figured that obtaining planning permission on our Grade 2 listed house would be nigh on impossible.

The only reason that we decide to finally go ahead with our plans was because we spotted another Grade 2 house in the village; that had been granted listed building consent.

It really is worth researching your local area. See if you can find recent examples of other listed homes that have been modernised.

There are approximately 500,000 British listed buildings; and our county alone has its fair share of them — almost 7000!

You can check the Historic England website to see all of the listed buildings in your area. And go on a fact-finding mission to see if any of them have been recently extended or renovated.

When you find one, the next thing I’d advise is to check on the council planning portal. Check to see who the architect was who worked on the case.

Which brings me nicely on to the next tip…

2. Choose Your Architect Wisely

We instructed the help of a local architect who’d managed to get listed building consent on another Grade 2 cottage in our village. No mean feat as our council doesn’t give planning away lightly; even on non-listed properties!

Selecting an architect who has good knowledge of listed buildings — listed building consent legislation etc — is really important.

But, also, I think that choosing someone had a good working relationship with the council, was key in helping us get our plans passed.

Knowledge is power but trust — and a good connection between all parties — really does go a long way.

3. Use Pinterest To Support Your Plans

I think this really swung a lot of decisions in our favour.

I had set up lots of boards on Pinterest. With loads and loads of imagery to illustrate exactly what we wanted to achieve.

2D plans are all well and good. However being able to show beautiful, aspirational colour photos of how our build could look, really bolstered our application.

I’d gathered so much reference on certain aspects. The Crittall look windows for example. It would have been very difficult for our conservation officer to not be able to see our vision.

My advice would be: try to find visual examples for all of the key areas you’d like to get passed.

Putting together a compelling application. One that will support your architects plans, is one of the best things you can do; when making changes to a listed building.

It’s much easier for the planners to imagine how your extension will look, if you’re able to show clear references.

4. Make Friends With Your Conservation Officer

By this, I don’t mean invite them round for a cuppa and a chat. However don’t see them as the enemy either. Treat them as an ally.

Do include them in your initial talks; find out what would be acceptable and what is a no-go area. If you have a question, ask them.

Grade 2 listed building do’s and don’ts seem to alter from area to area. Some planners like to have new additions in-keeping with the period of the property. Others seem to be more flexible and want to see a clear division between the old and the new.

What you can and what can’t you do to a grade 2 listed building is a bit of a grey area.

I never in my wildest dreams thought we’d be allowed to alter the roof of our house, for example. But our conservation officer was really amenable to that.

My feeling is, if you’re all on the same side — from the offset — it’s much easier to get things moving in the right direction.

5. Pick Your Battles

If things do start to unravel and you receive an answer you’re really, genuinely unhappy with; don’t just roll over and accept it. Try and see if there’s a work-round which will suit all parties.

Initially, we received a very unfavourable email about our planning application — and could have chosen to just stop the process at that point.

Instead, I called the planning officer directly and questioned the decision. It turns out that the language that had been used — although it sounded very final — was not as bad as we’d first feared.

That said, pick your battles wisely! There are bound to be certain elements that may cause issues; don’t argue each and every point.

Some things we just agreed to accept and — reluctantly — move on. Whilst others — the Crittall doors, for eg — were such a big element for the look and feel of our new extension. I was able to make a very convincing argument, why we should be allowed to install them.

One year on. Our building work is almost complete!
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

To Sum Up

So there we have it. My 5 top tips for getting planning permission for a Grade 2 listed building.

In short, making changes to a listed building is never going to be a walk in the park. There are bound to be some things that, naturally, you just may not be able to do.

Internal alterations seemed to be much less of a problem, for us, than double glazing for example.

Make it known that you’re as keen to protect the heritage and integrity of your home as the conservation officers are.

If not more so. Ultimately, you have more of a vested interest.

If they can see that you’re just trying to bring the property up to date — without compromising what’s already there — you may be as lucky as we were.

Fingers crossed for you!

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Caro Davies is a former art-director turned writer and content-creator, and editor behind UK lifestyle blog The Listed Home. She writes about home-related topics, from interiors and DIY to food and craft. The Listed Home has been featured in various publications, including Ideal Home, Grazia, and Homes & Antiques magazines.

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