The Government's recently published 'Technical consultation on planning' contains a number of  proposals which if implemented would affect heritage applications and applications in conservation areas.  The proposals are summarised further below.

  • Removal of requirement to consult English Heritage (EH) on applications relating to works affecting Grade II listed buildings in Greater London; and applications for planning permission affecting the setting of any Grade II) listed buildings.   
  • Local planning authorities (LPAs) (including in Greater London) will only need to notify EH of listed building consent applications and decisions relating to Grade II listed buildings if the proposed works comprise or include the demolition of the principal building, principal external wall or all or a substantial part of the interior.  
  • Similarly, in Greater London, EH will only be required to notify the Secretary of State (SoS) where they intend to direct an LPA to grant, or authorise it to determine an application for listed building consent, for works to a Grade II building, if the proposal involves demolition of the principal building, principal external wall, or all or a substantial part of the interior.  
  • There will no longer be a need for all EH’s own applications to be determined by the SoS; only those applications affecting Grade I and Grade II* listed buildings and those applications affecting Grade II listed buildings involving demolition where the National Amenity Societies object.  
  • Similarly LPA’s own applications for listed building consent will only need to be referred to the SoS where the LPA intends to grant consent for works to a Grade I or Grade II* building, or for works to a Grade II building involving demolition and EH or one of the National Amenity Societies maintains an objection.   
  • A minor amendment is proposed so that it is clear that the current requirement to notify the National Amenity Societies of listed building consent applications relates to proposals involving the demolition of the whole or substantial part of any listed building. 
  • Conservation Area Applications  
  • EH will only need to be notified of proposals for development affecting the character and appearance of the conservation area if the proposal involves the erection of a new building or extension of a building where the area of land subject to the application is more than 1,000 square metres.  Currently, notification of all applications for development affecting setting is required.  
  • Introduction of a requirement for LPAs to notify EH of their own applications for planning permission for relevant demolition in conservation areas.  
  • LPA applications for planning permission for relevant demolition in a conservation area will only need to be referred to SoS for determination where the LPA intends to grant permission but EH maintains an objection.   
  • Other proposals affecting heritage applications.  
  • Introduction of a requirement that the LPA consults EH on applications for development affecting a registered battlefield.  
  • Removal of a requirement to consult EH on applications relating to development within 3 kilometres of Windsor Castle, Windsor Great Park or Windsor Home Park, and development within 800 metres of other palaces or parks. 

EH currently has the power to give directions as to the granting of an application or to authorise the LPA to determine an application as they see fit, and in either case EH must then notify the SoS, who has the opportunity to call in the application.  EH also has the power to direct that the LPA refuses the application.  It is proposed that this power is removed in the long run. 

Comment

It is not clear from the consultation how the Government envisages that the proposed changes would be reconciled with the section 66 duty on LPAs to have special regard to the desirability of preserving a  building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses.

We question whether the proposed changes would lead to a practice whereby LPAs will continue to seek the views of EH as the Government's statutory advisor on heritage, but informally and at the pre-application stage to seek to ensure the robustness of any decisions taken by the LPA.  

The consultation closes on 26 September 2014.