This is one of a series of occasional Guidance Notes published by The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC). IHBC Guidance Notes offer current and recent guidance into topics that we consider crucial to the promotion of good built and historic environment conservation policy and practice. The Notes necessarily reflect knowledge and practice at the time they were developed, while the IHBC always welcomes new case examples, feedback and comment to firstname.lastname@example.org for future revisions and updates.
1. Recently a question has arisen regarding the notification procedure when a local authority intends to demolish an unlisted building in a conservation area.
2. It is evident that such cases of demolition in conservation areas are less frequently encountered than the more contentious ones arising from a local authority’s intention to demolish one of its own listed buildings.
3. It is hoped this short guidance note will be helpful in dealing with the somewhat more obscure procedure of the former.
4. The notification arrangements go back to 1992  but the intention of the 2015 amendments to the Regulations  was broadly de-regulatory in intent. In reducing the requirements to notify Historic England, the aim of the government was to focus resources and technical expertise where it would add most value. This might help explain why local authorities have not found locating the requirements altogether obvious.
5. The explanatory text is as follows:
“The Town and Country Planning Regulations amend regulation 4A of the 1992 Regulations to allow local planning authorities to determine certain of their own applications for planning permission for relevant demolition (i.e. demolition of an unlisted building in a conservation area) that are currently determined by the Secretary of State.
In order to ensure that applications are referred to the Secretary of State for determination where necessary, the Regulations introduce a requirement for local planning authorities to notify Historic England of all these applications. They also clarify that the application must be publicised in the same way as any other application to the local planning authority.
Only in those cases where Historic England, having been notified in accordance with the Regulations, objects to the application and where the local planning authority do not propose to refuse it, will applications be referred to the Secretary of State for determination.”
Acknowledgement: Thanks to Simon Cairns IHBC, Major Development & Projects Manager at Colchester Borough Council for highlighting and clarifying this issue.
Bob Kindred MBE BA IHBC MRTPI