Conservation Service notches up another success
Winchester City Council's conservation officers heard last week that they have won yet another appeal in an impressive four year run, gaining further endorsement of the professionalism and good judgement of the service they offer. The current team holds a near 100% track record on listed building appeals, with only one upheld against the city council since they came together in 2002.
The conservation service handles around six appeals each year, which can take up a significant amount of officer time. Appeal formats range from written representations right through to full scale public enquiries. This latest appeal, made by the owner of a property in the Alresford area, was upheld after a decision by the Planning Inspectorate and further details have now been requested by the industry's Planning magazine.
Principal Conservation Officer Richard MacCullagh said, "We are naturally pleased to have this decision from the Inspectorate. Of course, it is better for everyone if we can avoid going to the appeal stage. We always encourage active discussions and negotiations with owners, agents and consultants from an early stage in the process of applying for listed building consent so that we can avoid any disagreement later on."
Winchester City Council has a statutory duty towards the 3,000 listed buildings in the district, so the conservation team has a busy workload. Although the appeal process is generally used to resolve refusals, it does not necessarily mean that communications have broken down. Whilst one element of the Langton Park property in New Alresford has been under scrutiny by the Planning Inspectorate, the newly built summer house at the same property was nominated for one of the 2006 Architectural Awards run by the Georgian Group. The summer house was commended in the category of 'new building in the classical tradition' at the award ceremony in London last month.
Cllr Patricia Stallard, the City Council's Portfolio Holder for Culture, Heritage and Sport and also its recently announced Historic Environment Champion, commented, "Anyone who lives in the Winchester District is likely to have an appreciation for the wonderful historic buildings and streetscapes in our cities, towns and villages. The conservation officers work with residents to ensure that these buildings are here for the enjoyment of future generations and are not lost to passing whims or cheap 'quick fixes'. The job is not an easy one, as there are few 'black and white' answers in this area of work, so I am very pleased that we have maintained such steady support from the Planning Inspectorate in recent years."
If you live in or own a listed building and are planning any kind of works to it, Winchester City Council advises you to make contact with its conservation team as soon as possible for guidance on your legal responsibilities and how best to proceed. Although not widely understood, undertaking unauthorised works to a listed building without first obtaining listed building consent is a criminal offence and may lead to prosecution. Conservation officers can be reached through the City Council's customer service centre on 01962 840 222. You can also email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or look at their web pages on by following the conservation links.