One of our many roles is to monitor for any unauthorised works or additions within the historic environment of Bath and its environs. We report any cases spotted by ourselves or Committee members, as well as any cases reported by any of our members or members of the public. We are additionally in correspondence with case officers regarding potential development breaches or ongoing enforcement cases.
Unauthorised works constitute alterations or additions to a building or site without the necessary planning permission or listed building consent. Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) have consequently been granted the primary responsibility for taking whatever enforcement action they consider necessary in the public interest in their area.
The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 sets out Parliament’s legislation for the protection and management of alterations to listed buildings within the UK (England and Wales).
Works to a listed building “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” without the necessary listed building consent constitutes a criminal offence. The maximum sentence for unauthorised works to a listed building is two years’ imprisonment or an unlimited fine. In response to this, the Local Planning Authority may issue a listed building enforcement notice with the purpose of reversing works, or alleviating the harmful impact of completed, unauthorised works. Failure to comply with an enforcement notice is an additional offence with potential for a further unlimited fine. Whilst works can be granted consent retrospectively, this does not eliminate the fact that an offence may have been committed and a prosecution may still be brought. The demolition of an unlisted building within a conservation area similarly constitutes a criminal offence and an enforcement notice can be served to rectify any works done without planning permission, or in breach of a granted consent or condition.
For further information, you can consult the RTPI’s Planning Enforcement Handbook for England free online.
You can also refer to Historic England’s Criminal Offences: Listed Buildings and Other Heritage Assets for a breakdown of planning legislation in relation to listed buildings.
In instances of the intentional neglect or vacancy of historic buildings, Historic England’s Stopping the Rot offers guidance on how to save listed buildings, describing measures that can be enacted by local authorities such as Urgent Works Notices and Compulsory Purchase Orders.
We are always happy to receive notifications of potential unpermitted works to historic buildings or the public realm, and encourage you to help us by keeping an eye on any developments in your local area. We would additionally strongly recommend that you keep a note of when the work started, and provide a photographic record of the site. Any details can be reported via email or phone; please contact us at email@example.com or 01225 338727. The process of reporting planning breaches is completely anonymous and you are encouraged to report issues where possible direct to the council at firstname.lastname@example.org.