The Levelling Up and Regeneration Act brings together a number of aspirations from the heritage sector under one heading and alongside a wide range of administrative adjustments. In this, it resembles the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act of 2013: a mixed basket of reforms.
From a heritage perspective, one of the most interesting provisions is the removal of compensation being payable if a Building Preservation Notice (BPN) is served by a local authority, but the building does not end up being listed. An owner can face considerable delay to their project if this happens, as the listing status has to be determined. If the BPN is not upheld by a listing, then a lot of time has been spent – and to no end. If costs have been incurred, then the local authority is liable to pay compensation. Not any more.
Local authorities can now serve a BPN without fear of compensation being payable in such an event, and it’s likely more will be served. But there’s a catch: they have to consult Historic England first. Historic England has always worked alongside local authorities, and this tweak enables Historic England to give them a steer as to whether the BPN is liable to lead to a listing.
As ever, knowing just where you stand as regards the likely heritage significance of your building is really desirable. This Levelling Up change makes this even more true. This subtle change makes it even more important to gauge likely claims to heritage significance. The message is clear: don’t leave things to chance – get an informed steer on whether you have a future listed building on your hands as early as you can. Informed assessment is a shrewd investment.