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Warning issued to owners of listed buildings
02 Jan 2019

Our Planning department is warning owners of buildings with listed status to avoid making any changes to their property without planning consent.

The advice from Suzanne Tucker, a lawyer with FBC Manby Bowdler’s Town & Country Planning team, comes after The Court of Appeal upheld a ruling that a pair of rare limestone gate piers and lead urns, which were removed from the grounds of a listed building in Shipston-on-Stour and sold, must be retrieved and reinstated.

The owner of the Grade II listed Idlicote House now faces the arduous – and expensive – task of retrieving the piers and urns or face prosecution by Stratford-On-Avon District Council.

Ms Tucker said: “This case sends out a stark warning that listed building status is not to be ignored and breaches will be pursued. It’s not easy owning a listed building and legal advice should always be sought when it comes to any major changes you’re proposing.

“It’s an offence to carry out any works for the demolition, including removal or relocation, of a listed building or for its alteration or extension that in any manner would affect its special character, without the consent of the local planning authority.”

It’s understood the saga relating to the fixtures at Idlicote House had been settled after a three-year planning battle following the decision of a planning inspector. 

However, the owner of the house, who sold the urns, then took the case to the High Court, where he lost, and subsequently to the Court of Appeal.

The two piers and urns were originally located on either side of the driveway that leads to the imposing country property and received their own Grade II listing in 1986.

They were extremely rare and were sold by the property’s owner in 2009 to an unknown overseas buyer for £55,000.

Five years later the sale came to the attention of the Stratford-On-Avon District Council’s planning officials which refused a subsequent application for retrospective listed building consent for their removal.

The authority issued a listed building enforcement notice requiring the items to be returned to their former location – a move which led the owner to appeal both the refusal of permission and the enforcement notice to the Secretary of State.

The owner claimed the significance of the objects lay in them alone and their removal from the grounds of Idlicote House did not have any significant effect on the setting of the listed house. It was also claimed the assets had been fully preserved and there could be confidence in their continued preservation by their new owner.

But the council argued the removal of the items equated to demolition and that substantial harm had been caused to the historic and architectural significance of the heritage assets as a result.

The Inspector appointed to determine the appeals agreed with the council, stating their removal had affected their integrity and character as ‘listed buildings’ and heir continued preservation by their new owner could not be assured.

Following this decision, the owner took the case to the High Court, who sided with the Inspector, and his appeal to the Court of Appeal has also been refused.

The Court of Appeal confirmed that even if something is not a building, it will still benefit from the statutory protection afforded to listed buildings if it has been listed in its own right. 

The Town & Country Planning team at FBC Manby Bowdler has significant experience in dealing with all issues related to listed buildings and assets, including applications, appeals and enforcement notices.

Meet Suzanne Tucker