Casework

Since the foundation of the SPAB in 1877, casework, campaigning and advice has been at the centre of our work. Today in England and Wales, the Society has a statutory role in the secular planning system. As directed by the Secretary of State, the SPAB is one of six National Amenity Societies that must be notified by local planning authorities of all applications that involve the total or partial demolition of a listed building, giving us an opportunity to comment on the proposed scheme. We have a similar role within the ecclesiastical consent systems operated by the religious denominations that are granted exemption from secular listed building controls.

Each of the National Amenity Societies concerned with the conservation of old buildings has particular interests and specialist knowledge in terms of architectural history. For this reason and due to our limited resources the SPAB concentrates on applications concerning buildings with fabric dating from 1720 or earlier.

Generally we are unable to get involved in cases concerning:

  • structures post 1720
  • applications affecting buildings in conservation areas
  • applications affecting the setting of listed buildings
  • the implementation of other heritage controls
  • local planning policy issues.

Please read our Campaign Toolkit for more information on other sources of advice on these issues and other organisations that may be able to assist.

We cannot take up all cases, however, if the fabric of an important historic building is threatened by neglect or proposals for significant alteration, please contact the Society's casework team.

Recent Cases

The Royal Clarence Hotel is a grade II listed complex of buildings in Cathedral Yard, Exeter which suffered catastrophic damage after a fire in 2016. Regrettably, the proposals fore rebuilding would result in an uncomfortable mix of a restored Georgian building to the front and a collection of unremarkable and homogeneous contemporary secondary elevations elsewhere. We wrote to the Council urging that they strive for excellence in design and advised that they must seek details regarding the treatment of the medieval fabric in The Wellhouse.

The Romping Donkey is a grade II former public house in Cheshire. The building is in a poor and vulnerable condition with no use at present, however, a recent submission of planning and listed building consent applications suggest there may be fresh hope on the horizon. The proposals sought to convert the former public house to a dwelling. Unfortunately, we did not feel able to support the applications as the proposals did not appear to address crucial structural issues where members of the timber frame had previously been truncated or were missing completely.

The Society is grateful for the partial funding of its casework by Historic England under their National Capacity Building Grant, and Cadw.