English Heritage (EH) has claimed that new red tape-busting legislation will stop listed and protected buildings from falling apart. English Heritage chief executive Simon Thurley told architects the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 provided a fundamental change from protecting the fabric of the building to regulation by architectural significance. The Act contains six changes to existing conservation legislation, including the scrapping of conservation area consent and a more targeted and streamlined approach for those working who is working with listed buildings. Part of those changes will come into effect in October 2013; the rest of the changes will be activated by April 2014.

Festus Moffat, a director at John Robertson Architects who is currently working on the Grade I-listed Bush House in central London, welcomed the changes and commented that up until now it was very hard to work with Grade I-listed buildings. Now the onus is on having a dialogue with conservation officers and deciding what is significant. It is real step forward and a progress to allow architects to carry out refurbishments and redevelopments giving a new sustainable life to listed buildings. 

Heather Jermy, head of the practice’s Heritage Consultancy arm, was also glad to hear those news and said that before it was all about the facade with no clear idea what was going on inside. And now it is almost like a comfort blanket for people who work with listed buildings, it will help them understand how to deal with them. 

6 changes by the Regulatory Reform Act:
1. Conservation area consent replaced with planning permission
2. Creation of non-statutory heritage partnership agreements between local authorities and owners setting out works for which listed building consent is granted 
3. Non-significant buildings and structures and those within the curtilage of the principal listed building excluded from protection
4. A system of local and national class consents under which certain works will not need listed building consent
5. A certificate of immunity from listing can be applied for at any time
6. A certificate of lawful proposed works, to confirm that the works described of the listed building and do not require consent

Reference: AJ 12.0913

Grade II-listed. Commonwealth Institute building

Grade I-listed. Bush House, Central London