Private listed property owners are preserving much of our built heritage for future generations, yet many may be struggling to maintain and repair their homes.
In 2012, the UK Government removed the zero rate of VAT for pre-authorised alterations to listed buildings. This may have been a blow to owners, but chances are you didn’t even know this benefit existed.
Since then there has been a noticeable fall in applications for listed building consent. This could be due to a number of circumstances, including the increasing costs of sensitive repairs, the lack of incentives to get repairs done or, worse, that mostly repairs are done without any reference to the planning system, unless the architect or plastic windows company insists. It is very rare that the average builder or draughtsman (we can’t all afford architects) has the knowledge.
The reduction of VAT to 5% on repairs and approved alterations could be a real incentive for owners to maintain their homes and properly conserve our historic and heritage buildings, given the right publicity and a few other changes to policy and planning processes and support.
At time of writing it is only 9,627 signatures, which is a shame as hundreds of thousands, indeed millions of us, enjoy the work done to preserve our built heritage, but don’t pay for it directly.
There is no straightforward way to value the environment, which includes our semi-natural landscapes and there is a famous saying among conservationists, which encapsulates the problem: “you cannot eat the view.”
Similarly with our built heritage and designed landscapes and gardens (very much neglected), which suffer through imperfect mechanisms to encourage their preservation and correct management, let alone their sensitive alteration which is left to a shrinking cadre of demoralised bureaucrats.