Many listed buildings are, by their nature, full of charm, character and heritage. Tudor houses, thatched barns and timber-framed cottages make beautiful settings for quaint B&Bs, pubs and tearooms.
However, if your business operates from a building with listed status, there are specific listed building insurance requirements and strict alteration guidelines that you need to be aware of.
Do you need listed building consent for internal alterations?
Part of our National Heritage, listed buildings are noted on the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport's register as being of 'special interest'. This means the building is protected from having any specific alterations. Failure to comply with these laws can result in hefty penalties. As the owner, you should preserve the original structure to ensure the building's tradition is maintained over time. Although you don't need planning permission for internal alterations, Listed Building Consent may be required to change the interior layout, so you should seek advicei before carrying out any changes.
A grade I or II listed building traditionally used for residential purposes may be converted into a commercial business but only following strict planning approvals and guidelines from the local authority.
These guidelines place extremely restrictive conditions not to alter the building's make-up in any way without prior consent. For example, converting the lower half of a residential dwelling into a retail outlet will be much more complicated than today's retail units. You may find it's not permitted to remove windows or brand your business by adding a ‘name’ fascia. Before you make any external alterations, it's advisable to seek professional adviceii to understand where you stand legally and from a feasibility perspective.
Do I need listed buildings insurance?
The standard set of expectations insurers use for rebuilding costs: flooding, fire, and subsidence, for example, don't account for the additional costs associated with a listed property. So, to operate your business within a listed building, you'll need specialist listed buildings insurance.
You may also need to take out public liability insurance if members of the public visit the property.
What will the insurer need to know?
Because listed buildings are not considered to be of 'standard construction' (built from bricks or stone and with metal/slates or tiles for roofing), the cost of insurance will depend on how the building has been constructed. Many commercial listed buildings have timber-framed or thatched wooden roofs, and a combination of timber and handmade bricks. It's essential to give a full description of a property's build when obtaining a quote for your building insurance to avoid disputes in the event of making a claim.
Your insurer will also need to understand how the commercial building operates, how it has been altered, and if it will be used jointly as a residential dwelling and trading business.
Listed buildings are the backbone of our cultural heritage. They offer stunning locations for businesses in the leisure, retail and tourism sectors. Still, it's important to have buildings insurance for listed buildings in place to give you peace of mind should the unthinkable happen.
Historic England offers a guide to heritage protection in England. The guide includes law, policy and guidance that protects the heritage of local listed buildings and other heritage assets.
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