I’ve found a dilapidated property in Devon on a beautiful plot. My dream is to buy it – it’s up for auction in October – and demolish and replace it with my dream house. The dream house would be no larger than the existing property.

The plot is in the countryside but the building is not listed and not in a National Park, Conservation Area, etc.

My concern is that if I approach the Council with my plans, when they see the existing building they may decide to list it, preventing my new build and leaving me with something extremely expensive to renovate and that I wouldn’t be happy with due to the layout.

The existing property would have been amazing in its heyday – part of it is Georgian and part Victorian but it’s now in a very poor state of repair. I would get contractors in to save all the features worth saving but then demolish and replace the property.

Does anyone have any advice on what to do before the auction? Is it wise to directly ask the Council the question about Listing, or could this raise the prospect of Listing which they may not have considered otherwise?

Any advice appreciated as this would be my “forever home” if everything works out…

Many thanks

  • Adam

    Approach the council and discuss your plans with them. You might find that they are wholly receptive to your plans and welcome you with open arms to discuss what you’d like to do. On the flip side you might be greeted with stony faced refusal for anything other than renovation of the existing. The thing is you’ll never know until you speak to the planners.

    Many planning departments now offer a pre-application advice service. It is informal and the advice given is in good faith only. You are encouraged not to rely wholly on the opinions of the person/people you speak to but you can use it as a decent barometer. It would be worth investigating what the local council offers in this regard. Some will visit the site with a basic outline of your ideas (which you supply prior to the visit) for a £50 fee. Others want to see full plans, design and access statements and all the bells and whistles for a pre-application meeting and charge you £250 for the hour.

    The planners have strategic guidelines in place to deal with the process of listing buildings. If a building is of local or historic significance there may be little that can be done to avoid the listing process taking place be it now or in the future. The house may even have been left to deteriorate in order that it not be noticed as such.

    The thing is you will know much sooner if you make contact now. If you’re worried about going directly to the council perhaps you could sound out a local architect/planning consultant/experienced local builder to informally talk it over.

    Good luck with it whatever you choose to do.

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