Make the Grade : Are you getting the right advice on listed buildings?
David Fairley MRICS, accredited non-domestic energy assessor and partner in our building consultancy team, gives the lowdown on listed building legislation…
Despite industry miss-conception and guidance (not a regulation, but an interpretation of such) on both the Government and Historic England websites, indicating that listed buildings are exempt from EPC requirements, there is no express exemption in Energy Performance of Building Regulations for Listed Buildings.
Rather, the legal obligation remains that an EPC is required when a commercial transaction takes place and thereafter, the requirement for any upgrades to ensure compliance with Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) must then be considered. It is therefore the reference to MEES which is the critical element of the process, as it is this requirement which will dictate whether the property needs to be considered for exemption, subject to the rating that is achieved.
A listed building is defined as a “building which is included in the list compiled or approved by the Secretary of State”. Accordingly, Historic England, states that a listing is not preservation order, preventing change. It does not freeze building in time, it simply means that Listed Building consent must be applied for, in order to make any changes to the building which might affect its special interest.
It is clear therefore, that alterations are envisaged and simply that Listed Building Consent must first be obtained for any proposed changes are undertaken, which may have an impact on the requirements under MEES, to ensure that the property can be let.
There is obviously therefore a degree of subjectivity with this process and it's generally up to the landlord to decide how they wish to proceed. However, appropriate strategic advice from a reputable EPC assessor including suitable Building Surveying and Architectural advice, will be beneficial in progressing matters further.
Once an EPC has been prepared for a Listed Building, the certificate should not automatically be lodged however the full assessment process should be undertaken and appropriate recommendations should be generated. This will then allow the assessor working in conjunction with the landlord, to ascertain which alterations could be undertaken and which ones would potentially be considered to create an exemption from the requirement for an EPC based on the following;
• Would unacceptably alter its character or appearance,
• Are not possible or practical
• Cannot be made at no cost to the landlord using Green Deal, Energy Company Obligation, or third-party grant funding from the local authority
Specifically with regard to Listed Buildings, it is the comment that an alteration would unacceptably alter its character or appearance, which is the critical matter that needs to be considered when viewing potential upgrades to meet the MEES requirement. Therefore, the provision of recommendation suggesting for example, the installation of wind turbines, air conditioning plant or providing replacement double glazed windows, are ones that are likely to have a negative impact on the character of the property and ones for which an exemption claim will be successful.