26 T H E B U I L D I N G C O N S E R VAT I O N D I R E C T O R Y 2 0 2 2 C AT H E D R A L C O MM U N I C AT I O N S LISTED BUILDING CONSENTS JONATHAN TAYLOR I N THE UK, planning permission is required for new buildings, for extensions to existing buildings and for some alterations which affect the building’s external appearance. Where listed buildings are concerned, the range of alterations which require consent increases significantly, and whereas most houses enjoy some degree of relaxation of the rules for small extensions and minor alterations under ‘permitted development’ rights, there are no exceptions here: all alterations which affect the character of the building as a listed building require ‘listed building consent’, inside and out. The need for consent should not be seen as a moratorium on change any more than planning permission is. New buildings are being constructed with planning permission across the UK all the time. Planning controls are there to protect us from having our own homes and Early 18th century warehouses in Gloucester Docks successfully converted to provide flats, offices and a variety of other uses in a repurposed space; the conservation of our built heritage is a creative process which centres on the protection of cultural significance and the management of change. (All photos: Jonathan Taylor) our surroundings blighted by thoughtless over-development and inappropriate design. They are designed to help local planning departments maintain what is good about the places in which we live, and the heritage protection system is no different. Listed building legislation is designed to manage that process of change while protecting what is valued. Most listed buildings will need to be adapted to suit new requirements at some point or they will become redundant, and alterations are often needed to protect a structure. The UK’s heritage protection legislation provides the framework within which change can be managed. Proposals are often put forward by non-specialist architects and designers that entail unnecessary harm to the character and significance of the building’s historic fabric. With specialist input from heritage professionals it is usually possible to find a solution that achieves most of what the client/owner requires without harming the cultural significance of the building. Conservation can be a balancing act that involves a degree of alteration with the aim of ensuring the future of the building in the long term. In this respect it is not the same as restoration or preservation and it is important to choose our words carefully.