16 Sep

Is owning a listed property likely to be more trouble than it's worth?

 Is owning a listed property likely to be more trouble than it's worth?

That rather depends on your point of view.

Granted, living in a listed property brings certain responsibilities, which put some people off the idea. You obviously can't just do whatever you want to the place, and for some, this is tantamount to an infringement of their civil liberties. Thankfully, however, there are also plenty of other people who will happily forgo their God-given right to rip out Georgian paneling to make way for a 50-inch plasma screen, preferring to regard themselves as custodians of a piece of our shared architectural heritage.

In fact, owning a listed property - particularly the 90% or so that have been awarded Grade II status - is not necessarily all that onerous in terms of the restrictions on what you can and can't do. The reality is that most properties evolve over time, and the fact that a building is listed does not mean that it can never change. In reality, the relevant authorities' main concern is that a listed property should be preserved, rather than being allowed to go to rack and ruin - and they are perfectly well aware that this is likely to involve some concessions to the demands of modern living. You only have to look around at listed properties which have already been modernised, to see that it's perfectly possible to install every creature comfort, from luxury fitted kitchens to wet rooms.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that owners of any listed property must first apply for listed building consent (and planning permission) from their local planning authority, before starting any significant work. Things requiring consent might include extensions, the replacement of windows or doors, or altering the internal layout. Just to be on the safe side, the best thing to do is to take the advice of the conservation officer at your local authority well before you start drawing up any plans.

Finally, just a word of advice if you are actually thinking of buying a listed property. Make sure you use a surveyor with good experience of such things - and by the same token, it is also advisable to use a solicitor who is familiar with the sort of anomalies that may crop up during legal enquiries.

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