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Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
Have you obtained a copy of the listing from the local authority please to date? Are you aware whether the listing contains details of internal features?
Hi Joshua, yes I do have a copy of the listing from the www.doeni.gov.uk/niea website (listing ref HB24/06/038) and there is a detailed description of the exterior features but nothing relates to the interior except the phrase "Architectural Interest A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation D. Plan Form I. Quality and survival of Interior J. Setting
Thanks. The position is that any changes you make to the building either inside or out that alter the character of the building are caught by the legislation and it is an offence to make such changes without permission. What you propose would seem to be very much a potential alteration of the character of the interior of the building and a suspicion would be that it would not be difficult for a surveyor to spot the alteration on survey - e.g. when you come to sell. Therefore the correct legal approach must be to consdier seeking listed building consent for the alterations.
in practice it is true that people do make changes unlawfully to listed buildings and some do so without realising that permission is required, or on the basis that the LA will not know about the particular feature they are seeking to change. Many of these unlawful alterations are never picked up upon but one takes a risk in knowingly altering without permission.
Typically such issues come up when one comes to sell and a building survey is carried out. The surveyor reports an alteration to his client and recommends that the solicitor checks to ensure list consent was obtained and if you cannot produce it the sale can potentially stall.
The council can seek prosecution for breaches and there is no limit how far they can go back in terms of forcing you to restore breaches to their original condition.
Accordingly it is for you to decide how you wish to proceed though the only correct legal advice could be to seek permission for the alteration which of course could very well be denied if it does not preserve the character of the building.
Is there anything above I can clarify for you?
Thanks Joshua, are you familiar with any circumstances where a council representative is legally permitted to enter a listed private property to see if there are any alterations made which have not been included in the listing description?
Yes if the officer has due cause - typically a report or some other intelligence to believe a breach has taken place he is entitled to require access so far as is necessary to investigate the breach.
In practice such issues typically arise on sales though or if the council is attending to inspect something else - e.g. you apply for planning and they inspect something else and notice this change. Internal alterations are less at risk of reports from third parties than external changes like for example an extension which may aggrieve a neighbour. However there are risks associated with changing listed buildings as above and so doing so without permission cannot be recommended.
Is there anything above I can clarify for you any further?
That's all - thanks.
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