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HMRC internal manual

VAT Construction

Zero-rating the ‘approved alteration’ of a ‘protected building’: is the work ‘approved’: is listed building consent required

Listed building consent is not the same as planning permission.

Listed building consent is required for any work of demolition, alteration or extension of a listed building that affects its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest.

It is often difficult to know whether works affect the character of a building and therefore require consent. In planning cases heard before the courts, it has been held that the character of a building is affected, and therefore consent for the work is required, when:

  • erecting shutters
  • installing new double glazed windows
  • replacing Victorian stained glass with clear glazing
  • removing partitions
  • painting stonework.

For Grade I and II* buildings (and their equivalents in Scotland and Northern Ireland), it is likely than any works to the building will affect its character as a building of special or architectural interest, and will therefore require consent.

For Grade II buildings (and their equivalents) the position is less clear, especially for internal works. For example, in R W Gibbs (VTD 5596) the removal of asbestos did not appear to the Tribunal to affect the character of the building, and therefore there was no need for the works to be authorised.

In Tony Castelo (VTD 12787), planning officers said that consent for certain works were not required. Although the works were not zero-rated on the grounds that they were not authorised, the Tribunal Chairman said:

It is not necessary for me to consider whether the local authority were correct [to say that the works did not require consent]. The largest items were in fact supplying and fitting a kitchen with tile floor and plastering and installing central heating. It is not immediately obvious that this work affected the character of the building as a building of special architectural or historical interest. Opening up the fireplace in the lounge and installing an appropriate door are perhaps relevant to its character but they were only a very small part of the work.

In cases of doubt, the view of the local planning authority should be sought and their views followed. It should be borne in mind that the case of C N Evans (VTD 4415) (and followed in Mr and Mrs M P Wells (VTD 15169)) established that the Tribunal is not bound by the view of a planning officer.