The opening of the public inquiry into the development of the former Royal High School in Edinburgh has heightened interest in listed buildings.
Royal High School
The developers propose to use the category A listed building as a 127 bedroom hotel, with two new five storey hotel bedroom wings and demolition of existing buildings. Following refusals of consent in December 2015, revised proposals were tabled, which were refused consent in September 2017.
The appeals involve numerous planning and listed building issues, including the condition of the listed buildings, and cost of repair and maintenance; the impact on the setting of listed buildings; and the weight to be given to alternative proposals for the site – the Royal High School Preservation Trust obtained planning permission in February 2016 for development of the RHS as a music school.
Listing has various implications, including different tests for deciding planning applications, and the requirement for listed building consent.
Setting of listed building
In determining a planning application, there is a statutory duty to pay special regard to the desirability of preserving a listed building or its setting.
That duty has been the subject of several court decisions, especially in relation to wind farm developments.
In the most recent case of Catesby Estates, the (English) Court of Appeal confirmed that it can be relevant to take into account more than just the visual connection between the development and the listed building.
Maintenance of listed buildings
Local authorities have powers to carry out works urgently necessary for the preservation of a listed building and recover the cost from the owner.
Although urgent works notices are rare, Angus Council successfully defended a claim that works carried out to the C listed Hooks Hotel, Kirriemuir were unnecessary and the costs of £8,875.35 were unreasonable.
Appeal against listing
Although listing is not necessarily an significant obstacle to use of a building, or its redevelopment, it’s not surprising that owners are wary and have used the right of appeal against listing which was introduced in 2015.