Southend has a wide range of historic buildings. The most important are included by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in the statutory list of "Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest". Southend has about 150 of these "Listed Buildings". Other historic buildings in the city which have only local importance have been designated by the Council as locally listed buildings. The Planning (Historic Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act, 1990, requires us to have special regard to the desirability of preserving listed buildings, their setting and any features of special architectural or historic interest. Owners also have a responsibility to care for these special buildings.
How buildings are listed
The list for Southend was published in 1974. Since then, further buildings have been added by the Secretary of State on request. English Heritage advises the Government on conservation and will always be consulted before a building is listed. Anyone can suggest a building to English Heritage to be considered for listing. Further detail on the criteria and procedure for this can be found on the Historic England website.
Listed Buildings are graded to show their relative importance. The great majority are Grade II. Those with "more than special interest" or "exceptional interest" are Grade II* or I respectively.
What Listing Covers
Listing applies to the interior and exterior of the building and to objects fixed to it, such as fire places, panelling, skirtings and doors. It also includes freestanding objects and structures within the building's "curtilage" (i.e. its grounds) which have been there since before 1st July 1948.
Action to preserve the character of Southend's Listed Buildings is guided by the government's national policies (the NPPF), advice from English Heritage and the Council's own policies. English Heritage publishes guidance on various aspects of listed buildings and may give specialist advice on proposals. The Council's own policies are contained within the Core Strategy and in the DM DPD. Work to a Listed Building should follow these principles:
- proposals should preserve or restore the building's special architectural or historic interest. So, first, understand what features give the building its special interest. The Listed Building Description which has been compiled by English Heritage may help with this but for larger projects a detailed report by a specialist may be required.
- it is important to retain and repair historic fabric as it gives authenticity to the building. This may include internal features like skirtings, doors, fireplaces, ceiling cornices, wattle and daub to walls, and stair banisters and handrails. Where the fabric has deteriorated, repair rather than replacement should always be the first option.
- necessary alterations to historic fabric should be reversible, as far as practical. For example, if fire proofing is needed, original ceilings, walls and doors may be retained behind fire-resistant fittings.
- the historic plan form of the building (its internal layout) should normally be retained.
- additions and external alterations should preserve the scale and character of the building and should be of appropriate materials and designs.
- the setting of the building should normally be preserved where this contributes its character.
- employ only suitably skilled designers and craftsmen.
Listed Building Consent
Work to demolish, alter or extend a Listed Building in any way which affects its character must have Listed Building Consent before it is carried out. Repairs also need Consent if they alter the building's character. Even minor work like replacing cast iron guttering with plastic or changing internal doors is likely to need Consent.
Applications must normally be made to the Council and include sufficient information to enable the impact of proposal to be fully assessed. No application fee is required. Applicants must be able to justify their proposals and show why the works are desirable and necessary. Detailed plans of the existing fabric and proposed works, and supporting written information are normally essential. If consent is granted, applicants may be required to record historic features affected by the proposal before work starts.
Some Church denominations have "ecclesiastical exemption" and deal with their own Listed Building Consent applications, following agreed procedures. Listed Buildings owned by the government or the Council are also subject to different procedures.
It is a criminal offence to carry out work to a Listed Building without necessary Consent. Before carrying out work please check with the Council whether Listed Building Consent is necessary and obtain advice on its suitability and the information needed for an application.
Planning permission may also be required if the proposal involves a material alteration to the building's external appearance, a change of use or other forms of development. If both are needed, the two applications should normally be made together so that all the issues can be assessed at the same time. Listed Building Consent Forms and Planning Application Forms can be downloaded from our Planning application forms page.