The Court of Appeal has held that significant errors in the name and address of a listed building do not render the listed status of that building invalid. Chapter 1 of Part 1 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation) Act 1990 (“PLBCA 1990”) regulates the listing of buildings for architectural or historic reasons. Once a building is listed, there are heavy restrictions on making alterations to the building.  PLBCA 1990 does not, however, prescribe the format of the lists and there is no specific requirement for how a property should be identified.

In Barratt and another v Ashford Borough Council [2011] EWCA Civ 27, the owners of a property were not allowed to rely on errors in the name, address and description of the property in the list of listed buildings in order to carry out works to the property which required listed buildings consent. In this case, there were other identifiers of the property (i.e. references to an Ordnance Survey sheet and annotated map) which the Court confirmed were sufficient to identify the property as that on the list.

The Court also commented that place names may change over time and as such, changes of name should not defeat a property’s listed status. Instead, the description of the property on the list must be looked at as a whole in the context of the circumstances.

As the sanctions for demolishing, intentionally damaging or carrying out works to a listed building without consent include criminal penalties, listed property owners should be aware that attempts to circumvent PLBCA 1990, by reason of discrepancies in the property’s description on the list, are likely to fail. Purchasers of listed buildings should obtain advice before making any alterations to their property.

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