The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act (Act) will affect listed buildings, conservation areas and heritage planning. The changes will only apply to England.
Except as specified below, most of the provisions that affect the heritage protection system have not yet come into effect. BIS have indicated that provisions not yet in force are planned to come into effect in October 2013 or April 2014. When they come into force, the changes will take effect as amendments to certain sections of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.
The reforms will affect six main areas:
- Conservation Area Consent: Removal of the need to obtain Conservation Area Consent for the demolition of an unlisted building in a conservation area in England. This will now require planning permission.
- Listing of buildings: Currently, when a building is listed, any structure or object attached to the building and any structure or object within the curtilage of the building which has been there since 1948 is also listed. Work affecting them would require Listed Building Consent. Now the Act will allow certain structures or objects to be specifically excluded from the listing and for specific features of a building to be identified as lacking architectural merit. This will allow works to be carried out without needing Listed Building Consent. These provisions will come into effect on 25 June 2013.
- Heritage Partnership Agreements: The Act provides for owners of listed buildings to enter into Heritage Partnership Agreements (HPA) with their local planning authority as an alternative means of obtaining consent for the alteration or extension of the building. HPAs can grant prior Listed Building Consent for specific agreed works.
- Listed Building Consent Orders and Local Listed Building Consent Orders: The Act will allow the Secretary of State to make Listed Building Consent Orders and for local planning authorities to make Local Listed Building Consent Orders authorising particular works for the alteration or extension of listed buildings in England. These will be similar to Development Orders granting permitted development rights under the TCPA such that, in relation to the works specified in the order, it will not be necessary to apply for Listed Building Consent.
- Certificates of Lawfulness: The Act provides for Certificates of Lawfulness to be issued that will determine whether works to a listed building can be carried out without Listed Building Consent. Under the Act, works to a listed building will be lawful if they do not affect the character of the building as a building of special architectural or historical interest.
- Certificates of Immunity: Any person proposing to carry out development may apply for a Certificate of Immunity that buildings affected by the development will not be listed for at least five years. Currently, an application for a certificate can only be made after planning permission has been granted. The Act allows for certificates of immunity to be applied for at any time without the need for a concurrent planning application, thereby allowing developers to avoid the financial risk of obtaining planning permission.