Getting Planning Permission in Bath

The whole City of Bath is designated as a world heritage site by UNESCO.  Since the late 1980’s, Bath has been listed as a cultural site, with outstanding universal value and cultural significance.

In the 18th Century a handful of local entrepreneurs took on large and impressive building projects in Bath, their influence makes Bath what it is today.  John Wood The Elder designed many of Bath’s streets and now iconic buildings, including The Circus, and Queens Square, his son John Wood The Younger created The Assembly Rooms and, the world famous Royal Crescent. The Royal Crescent is comprised of 30 houses set out in a crescent shape, built between 1767 and 1774.

Bath Listed Buildings

Bath has approximately 5000 listed buildings. The listing process began with the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act, as following the Second World War it was necessary to create a list of buildings that were worth retaining and protecting.  Bath’s first list was issued in 1950 and the most recently updated list was recently issued at the end of 2010.  This new list includes 830 new entries since the last list created in 1975. New entries include monuments in All Saints Churchyard in Weston Village, and monuments at the famous Abbey Cemetery.

There are three categories of listed building; Grade 1, Grade II*, and Grade II.  Across the UK 32% of listed buildings are 19th century, 31% are 18th century, 19% 17th century, 15% 1600 and earlier, 3% 1900 – 1944, and finally 0.2% built in 1945 and later.  There are nearly 400,000 listed building entries in England.

It’s a common misconception that listing is similar to a preservation order, which prevents any change.  The purpose of listing a building is to mark a building as having historic special interest and/or architectural special interest. It is then necessary to apply for planning permission for changes to a listed building, so that your planning department can ensure no changes are made that would be detrimental to the buildings special interest.

When applying for planning permission it is a good idea to refer to your local authorities website to find out as much as you can before you actually make a planning application. Perhaps the best place to start is the English Heritage website where you can check your property is registered as a listed building.

The Circus Bath


Your local authority can also assist with the following:

  • Obtaining paper plans which could help you with your application
  • Finding out if there have been any previous applications for your property
  • What kind of application you will need to complete (some applications can be done online and other cannot).
  • Providing information on how long your application will take before you get a verdict.
  • How much your application will cost to process.
  • Explaining what happens to your application once it has been submitted to your local authority.
  • Explaining whether, in the case of a negative decision, you can appeal.

Once the process is complete and you have received planning permission, in order to complete the changes to your property, it is important to choose the right people to complete the job. This is especially true if the works will affect the look of the building, for example stonework or work to windows.  A reputable company can be found using a number of resources, there are official bodies set up to recognise companies that adhere to UK laws and show a good standard or service and good standards of work. An example is the Buy With Confidence scheme set up by Bath & North East Somerset Council.

Of course it is always advisable to ask friends and family for personal recommendations.

Hopefully this guide has helped and informed you in the process of obtaining planning permission for your listed building!

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