Planning for the future

By Nathan Foley | 9 August 2020 | Listed Building Surveys

The planning white paper 2020 has caused a bit of a stir since its launch with issues surrounding extra stories on properties being “permitted development” and so called RICS “Amberfield”.

This post is more concerned about a single line contained within a single paragraph and the effect this will have for protecting our built heritage for future generations.

We already have thousands of properties with inappropriate retrofit DPC, cavity wall insulation and other energy efficiency products all to be made worse by the “green energy investment coming soon”. Don’t get me wrong done right things can be done.

The people carrying out these works on their property mainly mean well but it’s about skills and advice and they should be submitting an application to get Listed Building Consent to undertake the work. This isn’t always the case and enforcement does seem to be a bit lax and that is another issue but that comes down to stretched Local Authority budgets and isn’t the purpose of this blog.

The paragraph that concerns me so much is the one above the innocuous-looking 3.31, these protections it is proposed should be watered down, now given I’ve applied for LBC many times I agree there are times when it would be so much easier if I was able to bypass the usual process and just begin work, where there is low significance and or low risk of harm and a genuine need for the works.

My issue comes with what we’ve already seen in the Approved Inspector world, and how the movement away from statutory protection with total independence leads to a position where you rely on the business from the companies your inspecting to stay in business and they have a choice to go where ever they want.

This to me is a quandary I wouldn’t ever want to be in but it appears that is the route we will be going, my concern with this is the token expert employed by large companies to rubber-stamp such interventions unless there is some form of independence we have issues with trusting the results and the integrity of the decision and data. Profit before cultural significance.

This same separation and trusting of data is the reason I am so dead set against SPAB’s latest PHD scholarship. I asked them on twitter several times and got an answer and the listing has now been updated about who the industry sponsor for this research was it was none other than Safeguard Europe, they make one of the most popular “Damp Products” Dryrod and the product I suspect this is about rubber stamping is the popular StormDry.

Now I’ve never seen StormDry with my own eyes so don’t know how it looks just as I’ve also never seen true rising damp but we have all seen beautiful masonry or stonework covered in shiny Thompson or other type water sealer and it looks abysmal as well as effecting the vapour permeability of the substrate and the associated damage it causes.

Now interesting Safeguard have done some research on this themselves and I haven’t seen the raw data or even carried out the testing but even there own testing indicates that it has an effect of at least 10% , According to there website 10% is “almost negligible” I think if this is the case then maybe they should be donating 10% of there profits to heritage charities.

My issue with industry led research like this is about independence, Safeguard has a lot to benefit from this research and its not the good of historic buildings it’s about sales and profit. in most circumstances where this is used, we are talking about places where repointing and other repairs should be carried out first, look on youtube on the walls where this is being lathered on they are in poor condition. They can not become a substitute for proper building care

My concern with the plans within “planning for the future” is how do we monitor those signing off these works, what professionals are we including and who are we excluding?

The full document can be read here:

The full consultation is available here: