9. Listed buildings
8.1 Unauthorised works to a listed building is an offence under Section 9 of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. A person who is guilty of such an offence will be:
- Liable on conviction to imprisonment not exceeding 3months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both; or
- Liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or a fine or both
8.2 In deciding the amount of fine to be imposed on any person convicted, the court will take into account any financial benefit which has been gained as a result of the offence.
8.3 The Council has a range of possible courses of action available to deal with cases of unauthorised works to listed buildings. These include the following:
- seek a prosecution;
- administer a formal caution. This is a formal process whereby the perpetrator signs a statement admitting the offence and submitting to the caution. It may be referred to at the sentencing stage if the same person is ever found guilty of a subsequent offence. It may also be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to prosecute at a later stage for another similar offence;
- serve a breach of condition notice –note it is an offence to fail to comply with a condition on a listed building application;
- serve a temporary stop notice or stop notice;
- negotiate the reversal of works/works to address the unauthorised works;
- serve an enforcement notice to remedy the works –note that there are no time limits for issuing listed building enforcement notices;
- take no formal action. This may be accompanied by informal action, such as advising the alleged offender to ensure that the incident is not repeated.
8.4With regard to Listed Buildings, the Council also has the following powers at its disposal: Urgent Works Notices and Repairs Notices and more information non this is available in Historic England’s publication ‘Stopping the Rot -A Guide to Enforcement Action to Save Historic Buildings’.
Urgent Works Notices
8.5 Section 54 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 enables local authorities to undertake works which are urgently necessary for the preservation of a listed building. Works can only be carried out to parts of a building that are not in use. The owner will be given a minimum of seven days’ written notice of the intention to carry out works. The notice will describe the works to be carried out.
8.6 Section 55 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 allows the Council to recover the costs of the works from the owner. The owner will be served a notice requiring them to pay the expenses of the works. The notice can be appealed to the Secretary of State within 28 days of the service of the notice.
8.7 Section 48 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 allows the Council to serve a Repairs Notice on the owner of a listed building specifying works that it considers are reasonably necessary for the preservation of the building.
8.8 After 2 months, if it appears that reasonable steps are not being taken to carry out the repairs, the Council can begin compulsory purchase proceedings under section 47of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. This process requires confirmation from the relevant Secretary of State.
8.9 Serving a Repairs Notice does not commit the Council to proceed to compulsory purchase action. The Council can withdraw the Repairs Notice at any time giving notice to the owner.
8.10 Decisions as to what action to take in cases of unauthorised works to listed buildings will be taken in the public interest, with each case being dealt with on.
8.11 When considering enforcement action against unauthorised works to listed building or other heritage assets, in addition to the Evidential and Public Interest Tests the following will be taken into account:
- an injunction will be considered where it would (i) prevent anticipated unauthorised works (ii) remedy damage where there is urgency, for example where urgent remedial action is required to prevent further imminent degradation and (iii) compel compliance with an enforcement notice where there are little signs of it happening;
- Prosecution will be likely to be used where unauthorised demolition has taken place or where unauthorised alterations are considered to be harmful to the special architectural or historic character of the building;
- Prosecution is unlikely if the alteration is sympathetic to the special architectural or historic character of the building;
- The Council will judge the effect on the character of the building, its listing and consider any change to the form, scale, appearance integrity and special character that contributes to it being of special interest; the structural integrity of the building; and the relationship between the building and its setting.