Over the summer, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has been consulting on new proposals for streamlining the process whereby owners of listed buildings can get consent for alterations to their properties. A number of options were considered, including:
- a system whereby consent was deemed to have been granted for non-significant changes, subject to the local authority being notified of the intention to make the changes;
- a system of local or national ‘class consents’ for certain types of heritage assets, permitting some changes to assets of a sufficiently similar nature;
- a certificate of lawful works permitting changes to be made without full scale consent being sought;
- and the use of third-party accredited agents to advise on consent applications.
Many respondents, like the National Trust, commented on the short timescale that the Department allowed for this consultation – just four weeks, compared to the 12-week standard time period. This has occurred as a result of recent change to the Cabinet Office rules on consultations, but in our view the changes proposed here were so significant as to have demanded a longer time period for responses.
We now await the Department’s response to the many submissions they received over the summer, to see whether any of the proposals are added to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill. In our view, the use of accredited agents is a particularly dangerous path to go down as a formal replacement for local authority advice and decision-making. You can read our full response here.