VAT levy won’t dampen buy­ers’ de­sire for listed build­ings

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Tony Wright

ONE of the few ac­tual sur­prises in the Chan­cel­lor of the Ex­che­quer’s bud­get state­ment in March was the pro­posed in­tro­duc­tion from Oc­to­ber 1 this year of the full 20 per cent VAT levy on al­ter­ations on listed build­ings – be they res­i­den­tial or in­sti­tu­tional.

While re­pairs on listed prop­er­ties have not been ex­empt from VAT, the pro­posed in­tro­duc­tion of VAT on al­ter­ations for the first time – which, in prac­tice, gen­er­ally mean ac­com­mo­dat­ing for mod­ern, com­fort­able use – is be­ing op­posed by her­itage spe­cial­ists who see con­tin­ued use and func­tion of th­ese build­ings as vi­tal to en­sur­ing their con­ser­va­tion.

The def­i­ni­tion of a listed prop­erty is a build­ing of spe­cial ar­chi­tec­tural of his­toric in­ter­est and all kinds of build­ings – com­mer­cial or res­i­den­tial – are listed to pro­tect and pre­serve the coun­try’s her­itage.

The ar­gu­ment has yet to be played out with Her Majesty’s Rev­enue and Cus­toms (HMRC) but, in our ex­pe­ri­ence as agents sell­ing or hav­ing sold some of best of the coun­try’s 500,000 listed prop­er­ties, own­ers take enor­mous pride in look­ing af­ter their homes and are mind­ful of their ste­ward­ship of the house and its place in the coun­try’s her­itage.

In an area of the coun­try such as ours, with the cathe­dral cities of York and Ripon, the spa town of Har­ro­gate and his­toric mar­ket towns of Ilk­ley, Wetherby and Knares­bor­ough, as well as a sup­port­ing cast of vil­lages and ham­lets which have seen set­tle­ments for hun­dreds of years, it is un­usual if we’re not un­der in­struc­tion at any one time to sell sev­eral prop­er­ties with listed des­ig­na­tion.

List­ing marks and cel­e­brates a build­ing’s spe­cial ar­chi­tec­tural and his­toric in­ter­est, and also brings it un­der the con­sid­er­a­tion of the plan­ning sys­tem so that some thought will be taken about its fu­ture.

Build­ings around today that pre-qual­ify for list­ing in­clude all pre-19th Cen­tury build­ings in any­thing like their orig­i­nal con­di­tions, most struc­tures from 1700 to 1840, build­ings of qual­ity and char­ac­ter from 1840 and the very high­est qual­ity and best ex­am­ples of post-1914 build­ings.

Dif­fer­ent grades of list­ing in­di­cate dif­fer­ent things about each prop­erty. Grade II sta­tus is awarded to build­ings of spe­cial in­ter­est which war­rant ev­ery ef­fort be­ing made to pre­serve them. Grade II* in­di­cates a par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant build­ing of more than spe­cial in­ter­est and just 4 per cent of listed build­ings in Eng­land and Wales fall in to this cat­e­gory.

The older a build­ing is, the more likely it is to be listed. In Eng­land there are ap­prox­i­mately 374,081 listed build­ing en­tries, with 92 per cent in the Grade II class.

All build­ings built be­fore 1700 which sur­vive in any­thing like their orig­i­nal con­di­tion are listed, as are most of those built be­tween 1700 and 1840. The cri­te­ria be­come tighter with time, so that post-1945 build­ings have to be ex­cep­tion­ally im­por­tant to be listed. A build­ing has nor­mally to be over 30 years old to be el­i­gi­ble for list­ing.

Be­ing des­ig­nated as listed pro­tects the in­te­rior and ex­te­rior of the prop­er­ties. In ad­di­tion, ob­jects or struc­tures fixed to the build­ing and those within the cur­tilage of the build­ing which were present be­fore July 1948 ben­e­fit from the listed sta­tus too. The prop­erty down­turn of re­cent years has been see­ing the dis­posal of some listed prop­erty by some in­sti­tu­tional own­ers, which will be in need ex­ten­sive modernisation for con­tem­po­rary res­i­den­tial use, and agents will al­ways be up-front about this in any par­tic­u­lars or brochures.

But it’s very rare nowa­days for a pri­vately-owned res­i­den­tial prop­erty with listed sta­tus to come for­ward for main­stream mar­ket sale which hasn’t been ex­ten­sively mod­ernised inside and the ex­te­rior main­tained down the years in ac­cor­dance with the re­quired stan­dards and ap­pro­pri­ate per­mis­sions.

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