Making the grade 

November 1, 2017

It’s been 70 years since the Town and Country Planning Act started protecting the UK’s historically important buildings by giving them listed status. Chris Jude, director at Building Surveyors Ltd, explains the importance of getting good conservation advice to make sure that we continue to preserve our region’s heritage properties and old buildings

The North East’s built heritage is made up of a variety of properties that not only hold visual appeal for many but are also steeped in history. The traditional construction techniques and materials used mean many buildings feature intricate detailing and handmade components that cannot be easily replicated.

With these intricacies comes a more complex way of building repair and maintenance. Traditionally constructed buildings don’t perform in the same way as modern buildings and must be treated differently at every stage of their conservation and repair.

The ever-increasing demand for modern living means that many old buildings require updates and repairs to keep them safe and habitable. With careful consideration and planning, historic architecture can be adapted to meet modern requirements without losing the historic fabric or with alterations which are designed to be reversible.

Relatively few contractors and consultants have the required craft skills needed to carry out the work sympathetically, so it’s vital that owners seek out professional advice from an expert conservation specialist before the project gets underway, even for the smallest of repairs.

While owners may be well-intentioned and believe that the planned work will not affect the character of a building, local planning authorities may take a different view. Our team at Building Surveyors Ltd includes RICS-accredited conservation specialists who liaise with conservation officers from councils and organisations such as Historic England to ensure that any work carried out is both compliant and retains the original character of the building.

A notable example of our expertise in conservation work is a recent project in which we were appointed to coordinate the partial conversion of the Grade II Listed Schooner Hotel (pictured) in Alnmouth, Northumberland, to provide new residential accommodation.

In its prime, the hotel was a well-known 17th century coaching inn with tiered gardens and grounds and a tennis court, situated in the picturesque village on the Northumberland coast. A large area of the rear of the hotel had become unused and redundant and was separated completely from the main hotel operations. This was to be converted into six residential houses and apartments with a new access road and parking provision where the grounds had become overgrown.

Our services included the design and specification of the intended works, procurement via tender bids to achieve best value for money for client and contract administration of the scheme through to completion and handover. We also liaised with utility companies to provide the new connections and worked with planning, listed building and building control officers, to ensure all works were completed to all necessary statutory requirements.

The result was not only an aesthetically pleasing building that was fit for modern living but also reflected the original character and history of the property and local area.

Building Surveyors Ltd 
To discuss any conservation project requirements, call Building Surveyors Ltd on 0191 500 9789