Historic England’s new listing screening service: A new weapon in the armoury for developers

9th October 2015

Things are modernising at Historic England (HE). The new enhanced advisory service (EAS) is set to come into operation on 12 October 2015 and, for a price, will allow those seeking development or regeneration opportunities to significantly reduce financial risk at the pre-application stage. Is the new service old news or a game changer?

What’s the status quo?

Archaeo-geological jokes about “rocking all over the world” aside, the present situation with HE is straightforward. The current services offered are free and include:

  • applications for the designation of listed and scheduled sites and building (as well as applications for the removal or amendment of such protections); and
  • pre-application advisory services (including 15 hours of free advice in the form of a desk based assessment addressing general areas of compliance and conflict and a more formal, one off assessment).

The new era – what’s changed?

First things first, the old free services will continue alongside the new EAS.

The most exciting new arrival is the listing screening service. HE will now, for a fee, offer to conduct a survey of the relevant site and produce a detailed report. The report will set out:

  • details of all listed assets on the site;
  • guidance on the significance and rarity of the site; and
  • an assessment of the likelihood of future listings.

Before issuing a report HE will require you to provide them with a marked up plan, access and health and safety information and site history details. The fee for the service will be calculated on a “full cost recovery” basis, so that the hours spent carrying out the service will be billed – a price estimate will be issued before the survey begins. You will also be able to apply for extended pre-application advice (i.e. in excess of the first 15 hours available for free) on the same costs basis.

An additional change, of lesser note, is that the process for application to have a structure or site listed or scheduled (or, more interestingly, to have such designation removed) can now be streamlined so that HE will fast-track a recommendation to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport within 12 weeks as opposed to the standard 5 months.

Sounds academic to me, why should I be interested?

In a nutshell:

• you can now more accurately assess the risk of developing a plot in advance of incurring the expenses associated with making an application for planning consent;
• you can also pay for extra advice from HE during the pre-application stage as well as during the design and planning process to ensure compliance and minimise risk; and
• you can take advantage of the fast-tracked application structure to remove the designation of listed or scheduled assets so that development can get underway quickly without frustrating contractors, funders and co-developers.

As with all good things, price should be borne in mind. Indicative price scales have not been published and in some cases you may incur significant costs just to get to the stage where HE will provide a quote. Fixed fees do not appear to be on the horizon and therefore costs could spiral in the event of complications. Developers should pay close attention to HE’s announcements and implementation going forward so that they can assess the affordability and practicality of these services.

Further information

If you wish to discuss any of the issues raised in this article please contact the author, Daniel Wingfield, on 01872 226991 or daniel@murrellassociates.co.uk


The information provided in this article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice and cannot be relied upon as such. Any law quoted in this article is correct as at 09 October 2015. Appropriate legal advice should be sought for specific circumstances before any action is taken. Copyright © Murrell Associates Limited, October 2015.