Piers confirmed as listed buildings in own right

An inspector made no error in concluding that two limestone piers in the grounds of a grade II listed manor house in Warwickshire were listed buildings in their own right, the Court of Appeal has confirmed.

The claimant, who had inherited the house and its grounds in 1993, said he was unaware that the piers, surmounted by lead urns, were listed. The items were sold at auction in 1996 to an unknown purchaser. After becoming aware of their removal, the council refused a retrospective application for listed building consent and issued an enforcement notice requiring their reinstatement. On appeal (DCS Number 400-014-158), the inspector confirmed that the piers were specifically included in the statutory list and overruled the claimant’s arguments that they did not comprise a "building" as irrelevant. The notice was upheld, a position subsequently confirmed in the High Court.

In the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Hickinbottom found section 1(5) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 clear in defining a "listed building" as a "building which is for the time being included in a list compiled or approved by the secretary of state". Since the piers were specifically itemised in the statutory list, he reasoned, there were no powers in the act that would enable the inspector to go behind the listing and assess whether they were buildings. An item’s inclusion on the list is determinative of its status as a listed building, he ruled.

In his opinion, nothing in the various aspects of property law on which the claimant relied affected the fundamental point that the items were included on the statutory list in their own right and were not listed simply by virtue of being fixed to or falling within the curtilage of the main house. In dismissing the appeal, he concluded that the inspector had carefully assessed the merits of the claimant’s case and had concluded that substantial harm had occurred to the value of the assets, there being no public benefit in their removal.

Dill v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Stratford-on-Avon District Council

Date: 26 November 2018

Ref: [2018] EWCA Civ 2619

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