April 11, By Gabriele

Adapting and improving listed buildings and homes in Conservation Areas is a rewarding challenge that many homeowners would love to tackle. At Riach Architects we specialise in helping to realise the aims and ambitions our clients have for their historic homes. Through our skills and understanding of the challenges involved we are able to make the adaptations necessary to help these buildings respond to the demands of modern living.

As successful management of the planning process is key to any project involving a historic building below we reveal some key constituents of a fruitful approach.

Do your homework
The appraisal of your Conservation Area or the listing of your house acts as initial guide to identify what features are held in particularly high regard from a conservation perspective. Reading these documents will help you to understand what makes your property special and what is likely to need to be preserved. This information can be found on your local council website, or at Historic England in the case of Listed Buildings.

Start the conversation early
Making a pre-planning application is often a fruitful and positive strategic step in engaging with the local planning authority about your proposals. This process enables the planning department to review your initial ideas and provide informal advice regarding their acceptability. It is important to start conversations with a set of drawings – even if they are sketchy – to enable the Conservation Officer to provide you with constructive and reliable feedback. Starting this dialogue early in the process fosters a positive approach towards the planning application.

It’s good to talk
Discussing your plans with your neighbours and the local parish council before making your planning application can pay dividends by avoiding unnecessary objections during the planning stage. People often respond better to a proposal if they can understand the reasoning behind the design and if any concerns can be discussed.

Work with a professional
They can bring your ideas to life, give you additional ideas as needed and present the proposals to their full potential using sketches, drawings and 3D models. They will also provide robust reasons as to how the design complies with planning policy and should be permitted.

Aim for quality
The alteration to your home will leave a lasting impression and so the planners will want to ensure it is undertaken to high standards. Riach Architects have a reputation for high quality design with local planning authorities – this acts to reassure the conservation officer that the end product will be of a high quality and will be a credit to the historic building.

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