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Advice on listed buildings

Advice on all aspects of listed buildings can be given. We do not usually charge for simple advice over the telephone or by E-mail. Generally we would work with solicitors, architects or directly with the client where a scheme is in progress which would affect a listed building or its setting. Occasionally we advise that a proposal should be abandoned or modified, or that a submission should be made to the Secretary of State to de-list a building, and we would prepare, justify and submit such an application on the client’s behalf. In the event that permission is not given we can appear for the client at a public inquiry. Our success rate at inquiries over the last fifteen years, whether appearing for an applicant or for a local authority, is over 95%.

Oldchurch Hospital, Romford

More than usual care had to be taken when commissioned by English Heritage to report on this building, which was scheduled for closure and demolition to release the very large site for redevelopment. With this background the question of listing some, all or none of the buildings was of crucial importance to both the local authority and the NHS Trust concerned. Any decision had to be fully justifiable in the event of a public inquiry, or more likely, of judicial review.

At Whipps Cross Hospital, London E11 the same considerations applied, while at St Andrew’s Hospital, London E3 the Trust appointed their own team of consultants to promote their interest in not having any buildings listed.

Listing buildings

Since 1987 we have been Consultants to English Heritage (listing branch), inspecting buildings which have been recommended for listing, de-listing or re-grading, or are the subject of Building Preservation Notices. English Heritage are the statutory body with responsibility for all aspects of the selection of such structures, and on their behalf we frequently process and advise on applications. There are only seven private companies or individuals in England who have ever been approved for this work and our most recent contract ended in May 2009.

This experience means that we are well-placed to advise clients on all aspects of the procedures involved in listing and de-listing buildings, with the division falling about 50-50 between the two.

Barclays Bank, Norwich

Archive photograph of the interior. The bank is the largest regional headquarters built outside the city of London, in 1926-9. Listed grade II and the subject of a grant application for conversion to a youth venue, and offices for youth support officers, both statutory and voluntary. Currently under consideration. All of the architects’ original drawings have been located in an archive in York.
Photo © Barclays Bank Archivist

Grant Applications and Conservation Statements

A presentation to the Heritage Lottery Fund requires a final document of high quality covering all aspects of alterations, future use, feasibility, costs, staffing and many other factors, which are generally produced by a team of independent specialists working together under the lead architect. A large or prestigious scheme can justify a document similar in scope and size to a business plan designed to promote a new business with a projected turnover in seven figures. Close co-operation is required, and in the case of a listed building or scheduled ancient monument the whole project can fail at the start if listed building consent is not granted, or if the authority concerned is not convinced by a compromise solution. Historical analysis is not a luxury added in as an afterthought if funds permit. We have a long record of successful integration with other professionals in producing such presentations, and maintaining the plan on target throughout the conversion or alteration.

Area Surveys and Conservation Area Appraisals

Area surveys are generally commissioned by Local Authorities, and range from the now discontinued Conservation Area Character Assessments to CAPS (Conservation Areas Partnership Scheme) and the newer HERS (Historic Environment Regeneration Scheme), both of which are usually aimed at securing grants from English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund or other grant-giving bodies. About a quarter of all Conservation Areas in England have been appraised since 2000, which is a regular process required of Local Authorities in order to assess their efficacy, and to determine new boundaries. In 2000 we surveyed all of the large King’s Lynn Conservation Area and, among other things, recommended that it be split into six separate areas to maximise the effect of the inevitably limited funding available for their improvement, and in 2005-2007 we surveyed all the 1,600 listed buildings in Breckland District for the Local Authority.

Culford Hall main staircase

Culford Hall School, Suffolk

Rectified photograph of the main staircase taken as part of a general historical and architectural analysis. For this shot a tripod-mounted Canon EOS5 was used, fitted with a Canon 24 mm TS-E rectifying lens. Distortion correction + 8 mm vertical, + 0 mm horizontal, 12 secs at f 16. All negatives of all buildings surveyed are stored indefinitely in case of future requirement.

Measured Surveys

Measured survey drawings of listed buildings are generally no different from any other building or groups of buildings, but drawings of scheduled monuments (which are often also listed, usually at grade I) which are to be conserved out of public funds require a more stringent approach. The accuracy of such drawings must be better than ± 1 mm. in one metre, and general or schematic depiction of areas of, for example, brickwork are usually avoided. Every brick must be indicated in its correct position, and the same applies to components of a timber-framed or masonry building.

Photographic Recording

A complete photographic record of every room or circulation space in a building is usually required before any work begins, although in practice this is often a retrospective exercise. Even today black-and-white prints are preferred, although colour is useful as well, and although we do use digital equipment, wet-film prints can be a legal requirement. This is because digital images are easily altered but alteration of negatives or the re-photographing of prints can be detected. All images must also be rectified at source rather than straightened on a computer, and for this purpose we use tripod-mounted equipment ranging from the Canon EOS-1 ds (digital), and the Canon EOS 5 (film) to the Mamiya 645 medium-format camera (film). Lenses most frequently used are the Canon 24 mm TS-E rectifying lens and the Mamiya-Sekor C 50 mm shift lens.

Copy of Copy of Main staircase south parapet, dismantled
Two types of record photographs. Above is a detail of the main staircase south parapet at Elton Hall near Peterborough, and is one of a series showing the restoration work in progress in October 2001.

Below is a close detail of Bishop Salmon’s Porch in Norwich Cathedral precinct (early 14th century) showing the masonry at the east end of the south wall at first-floor level, before remedial work was undertaken. This is a small structure, but over two hundred rectified black and white images were taken and dozens of colour ones. Most commissions do not require all record photographs to be printed at 10 by 8 inches for the actual report, just a selection.

Untitled-1Bishop Salmon's Porch, detail of 1st floor S wall

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