The Building Conservation Directory 2020

INTERIORS 5 163 C AT H E D R A L C O MM U N I C AT I O N S T H E B U I L D I N G C O N S E R VAT I O N D I R E C T O R Y 2 0 2 0 HISTORIC INTERIORS and HERITAGE PROTECTION JONATHAN TAYLOR I N THE UK, extensions and alterations to the exterior of buildings usually require consent from the local authority. Alterations to the interior, however, only require consent if the building is listed. In both cases the requirement for consent does not mean that all alterations are prohibited. All buildings need to change over time to satisfy new requirements and to accommodate new technologies, otherwise they would become useless and redundant. The heritage protection system is designed to manage this process, avoiding unnecessary change, and minimising harm to whatever it is that makes the building special. Each of the UK’s four nations operate slightly different planning and heritage protection systems, but the fundamentals are the same, applying protection for historic buildings through primary legislation supplemented by government policy and guidance, as shown in the table overleaf. These policies and guidance fall into the category of ‘material consideration’ which the planning authority is required to take into account when considering proposals for listed building consent. Local government heritage protection policies which have been through public consultation also fall into this category. The primary legislation enables buildings to be listed, makes it a criminal offence to alter one without listed building consent (LBC), and gives the criterion for granting LBC. Thus, all three acts state that LBC is required for ‘any works for the demolition of a listed building or for its alteration or extension in any manner which would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest’ (1990 Act Section 7, ’97 Act Section 6 respectively, and 2011 Act Article 85 – the wording is identical). The criterion for approval is ‘the desirability of preserving the building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses’ (Sections 16 and 14 respectively and Article 85). Historic paint investigations being carried out by Lisa Oestreicher at Buckland Abbey, the 17th century home of Sir Francis Drake: paint layers often contain valuable information about the way the interior was decorated in the past. (Photo: Jonathan Taylor, by kind permission of the National Trust)