Planning Consent Requirements

Planning Consent Requirements

Reading Borough contains over 850 listed buildings and two scheduled ancient monuments.

Reading Borough Council published guidance on Listed buildings a few years ago. Whilst some of the contact details are out of date the information provided is still totally valid. It may be accessed via the link; Listed Buildings in Reading: a Guide by RBC

Listed Buildings have additional protection in law. You can make changes, but you may need to apply for “Listed Building Consent”, and you will need to be careful when carrying out work that could affect the character of the building.

Historic England have published a most useful and comprehensive guide for owners of Listed Buildings.  The general theme is retain and repair and not to replace.  Instead of replacing old windows with double glazed units simply adding draught strips reduce draughts by 86% and is so much cheaper than replacing window units.  HE Guidance on Listed Buildings

The Sunday Times Home on 18 February 2018 provided accessible information:

Reading also has a list of Locally Important Heritage buildings which also require consent equivalent to Listed Building Consent though they have no statutory protection. Locally Important Structures.

Whilst applications for Planning Permission are charged for Reading Borough Council does not charge for processing applications for Listed Building Consent alone.

You are likely to need Listed Building Consent for:

  • alterations (inside or out) or extensions which, in the opinion of the Council, are likely to affect the appearance or character of a Listed Building;
  • alterations or extensions to buildings, objects or structures (including gates and walls) within the curtilage of a Listed Building;
  • demolition of a building, object or structure which is listed or is within the curtilage of a Listed Building. This can include the removal of only part of such buildings (even a chimney stack, door, window or a garden wall);
  • any new structure which will be physically linked to a Listed Building.

Do I need Listed Building consent to do work inside my Listed Building?  The listing gives no details of the internal features so they are surely not listed? 

  • This is a common misunderstanding.  If the work is simply maintenance then LBC is not likely to be required.  If however it is intended to remove original features, indeed to re-instate them, or change the layout of the rooms (making perhaps 2 rooms into one) then LBC IS required.
  • It is also required for attempts to fix damp problems.  So often people think that tanking is the answer (as that is what contractors tell them). This is usually totally the wrong thing to do in Listed Buildings, indeed buildings of any age, as it simply traps the damp.  Planning Officers / Conservation Officer will usually guide that another approach be adopted.

Examples of work which usually require Listed Building Consent include:

  • the painting of stonework or brickwork
  • the addition of render or cladding
  • the replacement of existing doors or windows
  • changes to the roof covering and other external features
  • the alteration or removal of beams, fireplaces, staircases, porches, shutters or other old features (inside or out)
  • the erection of signs, security equipment or satellite antennae.

This list is not exhaustive.

It is a criminal offence to carry out work which requires Listed Building Consent without consent having first been obtained (even if you did not know that the building was listed). Carrying out unauthorised work is punishable by a fine or prison sentence, and it can also result in a “Listed Building Enforcement Notice” requiring the reinstatement of those features which have been altered or removed.

Do I need Listed Building Consent to do work inside my listed building?

Regular maintenance and “like for like” repairs do not need listed building consent, but this would be required if the repairs include removal of historic material or changes to its character.

For example, refurbishment involving the removal of internal features, such as historic doors, fireplaces, plaster work, panelling or other original fittings constitutes alterations. Replacement of original /historic external doors or windows also constitutes alterations. All cases of “alterations” listed building consent is required before work is carried out.

Painting and internal decorating does not need Listed Building Consent but any external painting may require consent as it may affect the character of the Listed Building.

Replacement of modern kitchen and bathroom fittings does not require consent.

Applications for Planning Permission and for Listed Building Consent

You are likely to need planning permission for new buildings and for major changes to existing properties and the local environment. You also probably need permission to carry out minor work on listed buildings, in conservation areas or on trees protected by preservation orders.

Applications should be made via the Planning Portal well in advance of the works commencing. Reading Council plans to turn round applications within Reading Borough Council 8 weeks for minor developments and 13 weeks for major developments

The Planning Portal – do you need permission?

Listed Building Consents

I just need advice at this stage on whether I need LBC

Unless you are very knowledgeable it is better to submit an enquiry well before you plan to undertake the work, even if you do not have full details.

Unfortunately Reading Council Planning Department are not able to deal in detail with general telephone enquiries about whether Listed Building Consent is required or questions about the works planned.

There is a pre-application service which provides advice to help owners make sensible, realistic and successful planning applications. The Pre-Application form may be reached here: pre-application enquiry form . There is a fee of £144 including VAT for this service. It can however save you time and money in the long run.

Conservation Officer

Since 2019 Reading Council has employed a full-time Conservation and Urban Design Officer who may be asked to give an opinion on applications for Listed Building Consent. This is a huge improvement over its approach for many years of having a CO for one day a week . Access is through the Planning Case Officer who takes on your application for advice or consent.


Notice of planned changes to Listed Buildings (and other Planning Applications) are advised by the Planning Case Officer fixing a Yellow notice to the building. This enables members of the public to find out about the changes and to either support them, object or raise questions if they wish.

If you spot changes being made to a Listed Building, or a building in a Conservation Area, which you believe require consent and you have not seen the yellow planning notice then you should report this to the Enforcement Team.

If you believe action is required urgently, e.g. to halt the removal of original windows, then you should call the Senior Enforcement Officer on 0118 937 4424.

Further information:

  • Download the Local Planning Enforcement Plan to see how RBC deals with breaches of planning control.
  • RBCs online form may also be used to report breaches of planning control. You will have to log into RBC’s website as a Customer to access it.

Other sources of information

Historic Towns and Villages Forum website provides a publication which explains the process.

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