Artichoke is regularly asked to design bespoke kitchens in listed buildings. Quite often these listed buildings have been purchased by new owners who are unclear about the listing process, what it means, and how it effects them.
The rules were altered by HM Customs and Excise in 2012 and this short article will help explain what the listing process means and how it effects the kitchen in your listed buildings project.
Grade I Listed Buildings
These are of deemed to be of exceptional interest and sometimes considered to be internationally important; only 2.5% of listed buildings are Grade I. In these buildings it is typical for English Heritage to be adamant that the existing interior detail must remain unaltered and untouched (including architectural joinery, light switches, and plaster work). Designing bespoke kitchens into Grade 1 buildings can be full of issues, usually involving extraction routes, methods of fixing into the existing fabric of the building (which can often be made up of soft lime mortar and rubble walls), interference of the existing joinery and so on.
Artichoke was recently asked to design a kitchen for the West Apartment at Burley-on-the-Hill which was built in 1690 in the style of Sir Christopher Wren. In 1909, the West Wing was almost completely destroyed by fire and the joinery inside this part of the house has a very Edwardian feel. Despite the fact that it is modern in comparison to the rest of the house, it is still Grade 1 listed and the panelling in the kitchen could not be touched in any way.
Grade II* Listed Buildings
These are deemed by English Heritage as particularly important buildings of more than special interest (Grade II); around 5.5% of listed buildings are Grade II*. There are many reasons why a building can be awarded Grade II* status. It maybe that they are houses that while not particularly grand, are particularly important examples of local vernacular and they are in essence “Grade II but of particular significance” . It is likely that a Grade II* house will have a particularly special interior or interior features which will be treated in the same say as Grade 1 features in that English Heritage will not allow them to be touched or altered.
Depending on the features and their location, English Heritage can be more relaxed (although not much!) about designing kitchens and furniture into these properties. For instance, it maybe that a farmhouse has a particularly special roof structure which is the reason the house has a II* listing. In this case, English Heritage will be willing to discuss extensions to the house within reason.
Grade II Listed Buildings
These are buildings that are considered nationally important and of special interest; 92% of all listed buildings are in this class and it is the most likely grade of listing for a home owner. This is a good example of a recent Artichoke bespoke kitchen designed into a Grade II listed building.
While permissions for alterations are down to the discretion of the individual listed planning officer, in Artichoke’s experience it is the exterior of the building that they are focused on more. While the interior is still of importance, they are often a little more relaxed.
Regardless of the listing of your house, it is important to stress that Listing is not seen a preservation order preventing change. Listing has a reason, and that is to identify the life stages of a building and it’s various characters.
Listing does not freeze a building in time, it simply means that listed building consent must be applied for in order to make any changes to that building which might affect its special interest. Listed buildings can be altered, extended and sometimes even demolished within government planning guidance.
Listed Property, Bespoke Kitchens and VAT
Pre 2012 it used to be the case that a bespoke kitchen built into a new extension of a listed building was zero rated for VAT (or rather the built in/fixed items such as the Aga, furniture and extraction were zero rated).
Since 2012, the Government decided to “simplify” things, and sadly for many listed property homeowners, VAT relief on approved alterations was removed (although if you had applied for Listed Building Consent before 21 March 2012, zero rating will still apply for approved alterations until 30 September 2015.)
There are still VAT advantages available for work on buildings that have been unoccupied for more than 2 years, for a change of use from commercial to residential use and for a change in the number of individual dwellings within a property – eg splitting a house into flats.
Other than that, we’re sorry to say, it’s the full 20%!
We would caveat the above by stating that we are neither nor lawyers or accountants, but designers of fine bespoke kitchens. For a final adjudication on whether your project could be awarded reduced rate status, please speak with a trained professional! in the past we have found the HMRC team extremely helpful and they do publish a book which we have used to advise our clients ion kitchens in listed buildings. For more information on VAT in listed buildings, you can follow this link VAT in building and construction.
UPDATE 2020: Historic England has now taken on responsibility for listed buildings in England. We explore the difference between English Heritage and Historic England here.