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Charles Mynors Wins Listed Building Case in Court of Appeal

Charles Mynors appeared in 2010 for Ashford Borough Council, in the Canterbury County Court (sitting at Chatham), which was seeking to resist an application by the owners of an 18th century cottage that had been listed by the Secretary of State in 1979 as a building of special architectural or historic interest.  They sought to avoid the effects of the special controls over works to listed buildings by applying for an injunction to the effect that the Secretary of State had not listed the cottage at all, because he had specified it in the list by reference to the wrong name and the wrong address. 

However, the Council pointed out that the list also referred to an annotated OS map, showing all the listed buildings in each area; this and the description made it clear that the building that the Secretary of State had sought to list was undoubtedly the cottage in question.  The County Court accepted this argument, and dismissed the application; the owners appealed.

The appeal was heard just before Christmas; the decision was handed down on 25 January 2011 (Barratt v Ashford Borough Council [2011] EWCA Civ 27).  The Court of Appeal held that, in deciding whether a building is listed, it is necessary to consider the entry in the list as a whole, including the description and - in particular - the map reference, along with the map there being referred to.  It accordingly dismissed the appeal.

As it happens, the problem in this case was caused by an administrative error by the Secretary of State back in the 1970s (drawn to his attention at the time, but never rectified); but the issue will arise increasingly often as lists become older and older, buildings and roads change their name, and it becomes correspondingly more difficult to establish precisely which structures were to be given special protection. 

NOTE:  Dr Charles Mynors is the leading authority on this area of law, and is the author of Listed Buildings, Conservation Areas and Monuments, the fourth edition of which was published by Sweet & Maxwell in 2006.