Building conservation philosophy encompasses a number of disciplines and requires a real understanding of the values of our precious historic environment. Disciples within the movement such as William Morris who realized our historic buildings were being butchered at an alarming rate decided to take action. The formation of The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings established a philosophy of building conservation & repair that guides us to this day.
Other amenity societies followed in their footsteps to protect and preserve specific historic buildings and areas of special interest. English Heritage followed in later years and also provides guidelines that encompass this long fought philosophy.
Building conservation needs to be a carefully planned and thought out process to ensure that the special character of the individual historic building is preserved for future generations. The following steps are a brief guide to ensure a successful outcome.
Gain as much information about the history of the property and its special character. When was it built, was it built in various phases, what is the construction type, what are the materials and techniques employed in its construction. These questions need to be understood before any works can commence.
The listing description will outline what the special character of the building is and highlight various elements within its construction. The grading of the listing will depend on how special the property is, i.e Grade I, II, II* The listing description can be found at Historic England or by contacting you Local Authority Conservation Officer. Buildings within Conservation Areas are also afforded protection even though they may not be listed.
It must be remembered that any works to listed buildings and structures that affect the special character of the property will require listed building consent. Failure to comply is a criminal offence and can result in a £20,000.00 fine.
Contact with the Local Authority Conservation Officer should be made as soon as possible to establish what is acceptable regarding the proposed repairs or alterations and whether Listed Building Consent will be required. Where repairs are on a ‘like-for-like basis’ it may be a case where listed building consent is not required but further information may be requested outlining the extent of repairs and the materials and techniques to be employed.
Once it has been established with the Local Authority Conservation Officer that Listed Building Consent is required it is now crucial to ensure that the proposals for change and repair/alteration are clarified.
Depending on the extent of repair and/or alteration now is the time to consider the services of a professional who understands historic buildings and the planning process. The requirements for a Listed Building Consent Application are:
Once all the details have been gathered and the full extent of the proposals have been established decisions have to be made regarding finding the right people to carry out the repairs/alteration programme.
The selection of appropriate craftspeople to carry out the work is the most crucial element to the whole process as the building is literally in their hands. Do not make this decision lightly. Craft skills have declined at an alarming rate over the past 30 years but proud craftspeople specializing in their particular craft using traditional materials are still out there…. but you may have to wait for them as they are in high demand.