From 6th April 2014 local planning authorities and the owners of listed buildings can enter into heritage partnership agreements by the new section 26A, Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. Other parties to such a written agreement may be the Secretary of State, English Heritage, other local planning authorities, persons interested in, occupying or involved with managing the building and any other person with special knowledge of the building or listed buildings more generally.1 English Heritage have published a Good Practice Advice Note Drawing up a Listed Building Heritage Partnership Agreement (LBHPA). An agreement may grant listed building consent for specified works of alteration or extension of the listed building and make this subject to conditions.2 Heritage partnership agreements may also specify works which do not require consent, provide for works to be done and deal with public access and funding. They may:3 

  1. specify or describe works that would or would not, in the view of the parties to the agreement, affect the character of the listed building as a building of special architectural or historic interest;
  2. make provision about the maintenance and preservation of the listed building;
  3. make provision about the carrying out of specified work, or the doing of any specified thing, in relation to the listed building;
  4. provide for public access to the listed building and the provision to the public of associated facilities, information or services;
  5. restrict access to, or use of, the listed building;
  6. prohibit the doing of any specified thing in relation to the listed building;
  7. provide for a relevant public authority to make payments of specified amounts and on specified terms –
    1. for, or towards, the costs of any works provided for under the agreement; or
    2. in consideration of any restriction, prohibition or obligation accepted by any other party to the agreement."

A listed building consent granted by an agreement will enure for the benefit of the building and of all persons for the time being interested in it, but the other parts of an agreement do not affect third parties.4 Consequently it becomes important to separate what is part of the consent and what is not.

Agreements which grant listed building consent are referred to in the regulations as listed building heritage partnership agreements and are subject to the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Heritage Partnership Agreements) Regulations 2014. Formal consultation is required before such an agreement is made. The proposed agreement must be publicised by a site notice, on the authority’s website and by serving known owners.5

The documents available for public inspection must be ‘extracts from the draft heritage partnership agreement which relate to the proposed works’, the statement of reasons and all other plans and documents detailing the proposed works.6 If the listed building (or part of it) is Grade I or II* listed or is owned by the local planning authority, English Heritage must be consulted on the proposed agreement.7 A minimum 28 day consultation period is required. The Secretary of State is able to call in proposed listed building heritage agreements.

The local planning authority has the power to make the agreement which may be in a modified form from that consulted upon.8 The modifications would have to be agreed with the other parties to the agreement and must not be so substantial as to prejudice the interests of others or the public interest. The statutory duty to have special regard to the desirability of preserving the listed building, its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses applies to the grant of listed building consent in an agreement.

The Secretary of State may revoke a listed building heritage partnership agreement.

An ability to enforce an agreement will depend upon its terms. Any listed building consent element will be subject to the usual enforcement mechanisms under the Listed Buildings Act. An agreement may otherwise be contractually binding if consideration has passed between the parties and there is an intention to create legal relations or it is made by deed.