The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, as amended by the Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016, provides local planning authorities with a number of statutory measures to prevent or halt the decay of listed and historic buildings.
A local authority or the Welsh Ministers may undertake works that are urgently necessary to preserve a listed building. The owner must be given at least seven days’ written notice of the intention to carry out the works, which must be specified in the notice.
The works are generally limited to what is urgently necessary to keep a building wind- and weatherproof and safe from collapse. If the building is in residential use in whole or in part, the works may not interfere unreasonably.
Local authorities may recover costs by imposing a land charge, which can be followed by enforced sale procedures. Interest can also be charged on outstanding costs. The owner has a right of appeal against the costs.
Repairs notice and compulsory purchase
A local authority can serve a repairs notice which specifies works that it considers reasonably necessary to bring a listed building into the state of repair needed for its proper preservation. There is no provision for works to be carried out in default. However, the authority may begin compulsory purchase proceedings if there has been no material change in the condition of the building after at least two months.
Compulsory purchase orders must be confirmed by the Welsh Ministers. If a property is acquired by compulsory purchase or agreement, the owner will receive compensation. However, if there is reason to believe that a building has been deliberately allowed to fall into disrepair to justify its demolition and the development, or redevelopment, of the site or any adjoining site, the local authority can ask the Welsh Ministers for a direction for minimum compensation.
The Welsh Ministers may also serve repairs notices and acquire buildings by compulsory purchase.
Other statutory powers available to local planning authorities
Local planning authorities may have recourse to other statutory measures to address the condition of a building or secure a beneficial use. These measures are summarised in Managing Listed Buildings at Risk in Wales, which can be downloaded from the website of Cadw, the Welsh Government’s Historic Environment Service.