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Swale's Listed Buildings

A listed building is a building, object or structure that has been judged to be of national historic or architectural interest. It is included on a register called the National Heritage List for England, drawn up by the Government Department for Culture, Media and Sport under the guidance of Historic England.

Buildings may be listed for a number of reasons, but typically related to their architectural design, or if they illustrate an important aspect of the nation’s history. The older a building is, and the fewer the surviving examples of its kind, the more likely it is to be listed. For more information on listing considerations and specific designation criteria for different types of buildings and structures.

Listing is an important way in which the special characteristics of the country's built heritage are given protection within the planning system. Swale currently has over 1400 listed buildings.

Listed buildings are placed in one of three grades, which give an indication of their relative importance:

  • Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest (37 of these in Swale)
  • Grade II* buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest (88 of these in Swale)
  • Grade II buildings are of special interest (over 1300 of these in Swale)

Altering and/or extending a listed building

You will normally need to apply for Listed Building Consent if you would like to make any internal or external alterations to a listed building, particularly those which would affect its character or any historic fabric. If a building is listed it does not necessarily mean that it cannot be changed. However, it does mean that you will need to be able to justify the reasons for those changes, and show that the heritage significance of the building is not being compromised.

Any extension proposed for a listed building will normally need listed building consent, and in many cases planning permission too.

Developing within the curtilage of a listed building

Curtilage is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as: An area of land attached to a house and forming one enclosure with it. However the matter of what constitutes enclosure is often less than clear, but is nevertheless a question which the Council must form a view on where new development is proposed within the curtilage of a listed building. Normally, it is the case that any proposed new building or structure within the curtilage of a listed building will require planning permission, although not listed building consent unless it is proposed to be attached directly to the existing listed building. You are strongly recommended to contact the Council if you have any questions or doubts in this respect. Please note however that for enquiries that cannot be dealt with straightforwardly over the telephone, the Council may require the submission of a pre-application enquiry to provide a written response to a curtilage extent question.

Curtilage listed buildings

Curtilage listed buildings are not listed in their own right by Historic England, but because of their age and physical association with the listed building are considered, as an established principle set out in law, to benefit from the same set of protections that apply to a listed building. Section 1(5) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (as amended) states that Any object or structure within the curtilage of the building which, although not fixed to the building, forms part of the land and has done so since before 1st July 1948 shall be treated as part of the [listed] building.

The question of whether a building or structure should be treated as curtilage listed is often less than clear, but it is a question which the Council must form a view on where the demolition, alteration and/or extension of a building/structure within the ‘curtilage’ of a listed building is proposed. Normally it is the case that any proposed work to demolish, alter and/or extend a building/structure (considered by the Council to be curtilage listed) will require listed building consent. In many cases, planning permission will also be required, unless the proposed changes are internal only. You are again strongly recommended to contact the Council if you have any questions or doubts in this respect. Please note however that for enquiries that cannot be dealt with straightforwardly over the telephone, the Council may require the submission of a pre-application enquiry to provide a written response to a curtilage listing question.

Listed buildings, curtilage listed buildings and permitted development rights

Permitted development rights in simple terms, are works or development that can be carried out to a building or on an area of land without the need for consent by the Council. For many properties, and in particular for houses and bungalows, these rights are quite generous. For listed buildings and associated curtilage listed buildings, permitted development rights appropriately do not apply except in the smallest range of circumstances. In particular, it is a common misconception that the interiors of listed and curtilage listed buildings/structures are not protected by the listing controls, but this is not the case. It is a matter for the Council as the local planning authority to decide when listed building consent and/or planning permission is needed in any given circumstance, and as such if you have plans to make changes to your listed and/or curtilage listed property, you are recommended to check with the Council on the question of whether any consent is needed. Please note however that for enquiries that cannot be dealt with straightforwardly over the telephone, the Council may require the submission of a pre-application enquiry to provide a written response to a curtilage extent question.

Listed/curtilage listed building owners and/or their advisers also have the option to apply for a certificate of proposed lawful works if they consider the works/development they wish to carry out does not need consent and they wish to formally check the view of the Council on this question. You can download the application form for the lawful development of a proposed use of development (PDF 313kb) and the guidance notes (PDF 25kb).

Is my property listed or curtilage listed?

You can find out if your property (building and/or structure) in Swale is listed by checking the Interactive Map (link)

Please note that the Council’s interactive map does not currently provide comprehensive and/or accurate information regarding the location of curtilage listed buildings. This is something we are looking into providing in the future, but for the time being, if you have a query regarding whether your property may be curtilage listed, please contact the Council. Please note however that for enquiries that cannot be dealt with straightforwardly over the telephone, the Council may require the submission of a pre-application enquiry to provide a written response to a curtilage listing question.

Listed/curtilage listed building ownership considerations

Whilst the rewards of owning and/or living and/or working in a listed/curtilage listed building can be considerable, it will be clear from a quick review of this web page that ownership also brings additional responsibilities that do not apply to non-listed properties. The Council would not wish to discourage anyone from taking on the ownership of a listed/curtilage listed property, but would simply urge careful consideration in this respect. Becoming the guardian of part of the nation’s heritage can be very rewarding, but it can then sometimes feel like a real burden when considering making changes to the property or having to carry out necessary maintenance and repairs. The Council’s Heritage Team is able to provide free, without prejudice advice to the prospective purchasers of listed buildings, but this is necessarily limited to being brief and informal advice over the telephone. For specific enquiries about possible changes to a listed/curtilage listed building by a prospective purchaser, it will normally be necessary for the enquirer to submit a pre-application enquiry in order to receive a without prejudice written response from the Council .

The Council also provides a guidance leaflet for the owners of listed/curtilage listed buildings (PDF 1.49MB) which owners and/or prospective purchasers may find useful. Please note that whilst this guidance note is now a little dated, the majority of the content is still valid and useful. The Council intend to update this guidance note in the near future to support the work of its emerging Borough-wide Heritage Strategy.

The Listed Property Owners Club (which is based in Swale, but operates nationally) is also a good source of advice for the owners or prospective owners of listed properties. The Council would encourage all listed property owners to consider joining this very worthwhile club. The Club provides a useful guide to owning or buying a listed building, which can be accessed via its website.

Breaches of Planning Control and Failure to Properly Maintain

The Council takes very seriously the matter of working with listed/curtilage listed building owners to ensure that the historic environment of Swale is properly cared for and respected. As such, it rightly gives a high priority to dealing with owners that carry out unauthorised works or development in relation to a listed or curtilage listed building. In the most serious cases where irretrievable harm has resulted to such a heritage asset, actions taken by the Council may include prosecution of all relevant parties (owners, lessees, tenants, contractors and consultants, etc.). Listed building and/or planning enforcement notices will be used to reverse harmful change, and the Council will also use the full range of powers available to it in addressing the failure of owners to properly maintain their buildings. This includes Repairs Notices, Urgent Works Notices, and in the most serious cases, the use of compulsory purchase powers.

Please note: It is a criminal offence to carry out works to a listed building without prior Listed Building Consent, even if you did not know that the building was listed. Ignorance is not a defence in law, and liability for the unauthorised works can extend beyond the owner, lessee or tenant to contractors and advisers and other third parties.

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