Consent for Adapting K6 Telephone Kiosks
There are over 3,400 K6 telephone kiosks still in operation in England today and over 3,000 are protected by Historic England and BT.
The K6 telephone kiosk, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (1880-1960), is one of Britain’s most recognisable pieces of industrial design. Around 60,000 were installed between 1936 and 1968 so it’s a familiar sight across the country.
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Listing K6 kiosks
There are 3,200 K6 telephone kiosks protected as iconic national objects, with special architectural design interest. Because large numbers have survived, and most are protected, new listings of K6 kiosks are now very rare. When they do happen, the selection of new listings is determined on the basis of the quality of the ‘group value’ along with other listed buildings or sites.
We have a robust and representative selection currently protected so it is now unlikely that we would look to add new kiosks to the National Heritage List for England.
When is listed building consent required?
When considering works to listed K6s, listed building consent is only required when, in the view of the local planning authority, the works would affect the kiosk’s special interest (Historic England 2017).
Like-for-like repairs, repainting the kiosk in the same colour and works inside the kiosk are unlikely to affect that special interest.
The internal telephony equipment (none of which is original), is not covered by the designation. You wouldn’t need to apply for consent to alter or remove it, unless it was explicitly identified in its entry on the National Heritage List.
Other works commonly carried out include alterations or changing the wording in the lit panel at the top of the kiosk to signal a new use. As long as the changes made are in the spirit of this significant piece of industrial design, they’re unlikely to erode the special interest unduly and therefore unlikely to need listed building consent in the view of Historic England.
You can see all of the listed K6 kiosks on the National Heritage List for England.
To apply for listed building consent, download an application form from your local authorities’ website. It’s free to apply.
Historic England would normally only consider commenting on a listed building consent application for works to a listed kiosk if it was being proposed for removal, not for lesser works.
The local planning authority will need to determine each consent application in line with the National Planning Policy Framework. They will consider the kiosk’s significance, the impact on group value with visually-related heritage assets and any other relevant planning considerations.
Moving a listed K6 kiosk
Moving a listed kiosk any more than a very short distance is likely to trigger its de-listing. When moved, it is effectively being demolished and its context, critical to its special interest as described above, changes. The decision on whether to re-list it in a new location will depend on the criteria for designation at that point in time.
Locally designating K6s
Many kiosks which have not been listed nevertheless do make a positive contribution to the character and history of an area. The local planning authority may consider they merit inclusion on a local list, if they have one. Or they may identify whether they contribute to a conservation area’s character or appearance.
New uses for K6 kiosks
Thanks to mobile phones, telephone kiosks are little used. As more kiosks fall out of use Historic England encourages innovative thinking in finding new uses for them, for example to house community defibrillator stations or commercial uses. These help retain kiosks in a positive use and attract investment funding their maintenance and continued service to local communities.