Alternative Powers to Secure Conservation of Listed Buildings and Other Heritage Assets

A local planning authority has various powers it can use to ensure repairs are carried out to improve the condition of buildings in its area, besides an urgent works notice or a repairs notice.

Dangerous Structures

Where a building is in sufficient disrepair to be considered dangerous a local planning authority may apply for a court order (1) requiring the owner to make the building safe or to demolish all or part of it. If the owner fails to comply the authority can carry out the work and reclaim the expense. The court order is registrable as a local land charge.

Any works carried out under the order are subject to listed building control and listed building consent may be required.

In the case of a listed building or one in a conservation area the authority must consider whether they should instead serve an urgent works notice or a repairs notice (2).

Amenity Notice

If land or buildings are in such poor condition that the local planning authority considers it adversely affects the amenity of the area, the local planning authority may serve an amenity notice on the owner under s.215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990(3) specifying the works necessary to remedy the poor condition. The notice will set a time limit of not less than 28 days within which the works must take place. The owner can appeal to the Magistrates Court against the notice. The local planning authority may carry out the work itself if the owner fails to do so and may recover the costs from the owner.

An amenity notice may be used for an unlisted building in a conservation area  and for scheduled monuments. It may also be used to remedy relatively minor matters in a listed building such as poor external maintenance, broken fences and accumulated rubbish. More serious matters which threaten the structure of a listed building may be more appropriately dealt with by an urgent works notice or a repairs notice.

Works to Empty Buildings

A local planning authority may undertake works to an unoccupied building to prevent unauthorised entry or to prevent it becoming a danger to public health (4). The expenses of the works may be recovered from the owner.

Statutory Nuisance

Local planning authorities may serve an abatement notice (5) on an owner or occupier of premises requiring the abatement or prevention of the nuisance or the execution of necessary works for that purpose. This may provide a useful power if premises were allowed to deteriorate to such extent that they affect health or cause a nuisance.

Ancient Monuments

Historic England and a local planning authority have powers (6) to carry out works to a monument that are required for the preservation, maintenance and management of the monument and to contribute to the costs of such works. The consent of the owner must be obtained.

In addition, the Secretary of State and Historic England may themselves (7) carry out works that are urgently necessary for the preservation of a scheduled monument. The owner must first be given 7 days written notice. It may not be possible to reclaim the costs of such works although it may be possible to obtain a compensation order if the damage has been caused deliberately and the culprit is convicted of criminal damage.  

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