First principles

The first and foremost principle with regard to the care of a listed building must be to not damage it. The second might be to not attach unnecessary accretions. With this in mind we are pleased to report that an inspector has refused to issue a certificate of lawfulness for the attachment of a plaque bearing the words “An English listed building” and a rose motif to a grade II listed farmhouse in Kent (DCS Number 400-023-929).

The inspector recorded that Section 7 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (as amended) provides that any works for the demolition of a listed building or for its alteration or extension in any manner that would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest requires the grant of listed building consent. Section 1(5) of the Act defines a listed building to include any object or structure fixed to the building. She noted that the Act is silent with regard to the dimension, size or scale of a ‘fixing’ but agreed with the council that it is reasonable to interpret section 1(5) to the effect that any object or structure ‘fixed’ to the building shall be treated as part of the listed building. She also recorded that the Act does not define ‘alteration’.

The inspector noted that the plaque would hang from a screw in the same way as a picture hangs from a wall. The appellant accepted that the screw was an alteration within the meaning of section 7 but contended that it was one that did not affect the character of the listed building. The appellant also argued that the plaque was not an alteration as it was not fixed to the wall. The inspector disagreed with this argument, holding that it was not reasonable to distinguish between the screw and the plaque when considering the application of section 7. She reasoned that the plaque had the potential to affect the character of the listed building, for example by virtue of its size, design or location.

The inspector took the view that the erection of the plaque would comprise works of alteration in a manner that would affect the character of the listed building. She was therefore satisfied that the proposal was an alteration within the meaning of section 7 of the Act and required listed building consent. The appeal was dismissed.

Section 27.2 of DCP Online concerns alterations to listed buildings.