Listed Buildings

Throughout our lives on average we live in eight houses. This has increased from six houses in the 1980s as people are now moving more during their lifetime.

The demographics of a moving population

We recently looked at the 2018 DEFRA Statistical Digest of Rural England which observes the movements people make within the UK. It is clear there is a general shift in internal migration from the UK’s urban and predominantly urban areas to the UK’s rural and predominantly rural areas. Most of the people moving to more rural areas fall into the older age bands of 30 – 70.

Being located in a predominantly rural area, James Wells Architects is ideally placed to help people improve their houses in the South and South East of England.

What is a Listed Building?

A significant portion of our residential design work involves alterations to listed buildings.  A listed building or structure is one that has been placed on one of the three statutory lists maintained by Historic England.

The three lists are:

  • Grade I buildings – those of exceptional interest,
  • Grade II* – which are particularly important buildings of more than special interest
  • Grade II buildings are of special interest warranting every effort to preserve them.  90% of listed buildings on the Historic England list are in this last category.  To check if your house is listed please visit the Historic England website

In addition Local planning authorities are obliged to designate as Conservation Areas any parts of their district that are of special architectural or historic interest.  This conservation area designation introduces a general control over the demolition of unlisted buildings and provides a basis for planning policies whose objective is to conserve all aspects of character or appearance, including landscape and public spaces, that define an area’s special interest.  Locally, for instance Chichester City Centre is a Conservation Area and Sutton Village in the South Downs National Park is also a Conservation Area.  There are 85 Conservation Areas in Chichester District Council and 3,200 Listed Buildings in the District.

There are also Scheduled Monuments and World Heritage Sites which for the purpose of these notes we won’t include here.

There is often a perception amongst house hunters that a Listed Property is of more value than one which is not listed, as they are more historically significant, characterful or simply attractive.  For the buyer who wants to ‘own a piece of history’ this is true and historically significant properties may command a higher price than equivalent sized new property on the market.  If you plan to do any modifications or refurbishment work on your Listed home you must seek approval in the form of Listed Building Consent from the local conservation officer who is normally employed by your local authority.

James Wells Architects has a range of experience working on Listed residential buildings.  We have undertaken schemes to adapt and remodel two Grade II Listed homes in the Conservation Area of the Downland village of Sutton.  Both these projects were relatively straight forward refurbishments the first with an extension and refurbishment upgrading services, complete rewiring and damp.  The second was a more substantial refurbishment of the whole house with a larger budget.  If you are considering buying a Listed property even with no substantial building work you need to think about checking the roof, making sure gutters and drainpipes are clear, repainting external woodwork, replacing putty around windows, cutting back vegetation, cleaning chimneys twice a year, re-pointing brick and stonework, service all heating and electrical equipment, clean and repair renders, stone and brickwork.

In Woking, Surrey JWA was commissioned by a developer to work on St John’s Lodge, a 1894 Grade II listed Arts & Crafts Edwardian country house.  Our design was to extend and remodel the main house to create 10 houses and apartments and design a new separate six unit apartment block. A scheme for a new courtyard development comprising 14 new homes within the site was also created. The detached apartment block was built in keeping with the language and materials of the original house but lower in height, nestling between mature trees. The new development sits in spacious and elegantly landscaped grounds with new shrub planting to create a lush development in this leafy Surrey setting.

If you would like to talk to us about carefully rethinking regrettable 20th Century alterations then do please contact us.

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