Unfortunately, many restrictions could limit or even prohibit, alterations to your future home. Before you rush to sign on the dotted line, you should conduct your own due diligence checks with your local authority and ensure that your dream renovations can become a reality.

As part of the legal process, your Residential Property solicitor will order searches to reveal if your future home is subject to any of the restrictions outlined below.

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Your property is located within a Conservation Area

According to Historic England, 2.2% of England is a Conservation Area. Each area is assigned by its local authority. The purpose of a Conservation Area is to protect the architectural and historic interest of the designated environment. 

There is no formal search facility to find out whether your future home is located within a Conservation Area. Therefore, you must rely upon your local search. Tighter planning controls apply in Conservation Areas, and any work on the exterior of your property, for example, new windows, will require Conservation Area Consent and planning permission. Therefore, before exchanging contracts, make enquiries with your local authority to check that your intended alterations will be permitted. 

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Your property is subject to an Article 4 Direction

There are many different Article 4 Directions, for example, Class C3 (dwelling house) to C4 (houses in multiple occupations).

In this instance, if you wish to change the purpose of your property, you will need to seek planning permission, which could be refused.

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Your property is a listed building

In order for a building to be ‘listed’, it must be deemed to be of special architectural or historic interest. Properties on the list are graded to reflect their relative interest as set out below: 

  • Grade I buildings – Exceptional interest 
  • Grade II* buildings – Important buildings of special interest 
  • Grade II buildings – Special interest

While you can be easily charmed by a listed building on your property search, it is important that you are aware of the implications for you as the future owner.

Listed building consent must be obtained to make any changes which could impact its special or historical interest. Any unauthorised work on a listed building is a criminal offence. 

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Your property is subject to a Tree Preservation Order

A Tree Preservation Order is an Order made by your local authority to protect a single tree, group of trees or a woodland. This is for ‘the interests of amenity.’

An Order prohibits cutting down, topping, lopping, uprooting, wilful damage and wilful destruction of trees without written permission. This could impact any potential work in the surrounding area of your property.

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Your property is subject to freehold or leasehold restrictive covenants

As part of their title investigation, your solicitor will highlight any freehold or leasehold restrictive covenants to you.

Sometimes, they can restrict what alterations you can make to your property without needing consent from a third party, such as a developer, freeholder, or management company.

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For the reasons outlined above, you must conduct your own investigations before purchasing your ‘dream’ property.

Even if there are no obvious restrictions, you should still check whether planning permission and building regulations approval are needed before commencing any work.

Check with your local authority and seek legal advice to ensure that your renovation works are possible.

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