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Across the country, behind closed doors, we British are building.
We're building up, down and out to improve our homes.
-Will we get planning permission?
-I've got reservations
But before we build we need permission.
Permission from the planners. A bunch of people dedicated to
protecting our public spaces and neighbourhoods.
I'm really, really annoyed by planning.
So, if you've ever wanted a bigger kitchen,
an extra bedroom or an en suite bathroom, stand by.
It's time to Plan It, Build It.
This country has a rich and colourful history,
and our buildings are a time capsule back to the past.
From medieval dwellings to quirky modern houses -
each one tells a story.
Planners must conserve these historic pieces at all costs
and to help them, 450,000 of the most important architectural
and historic structures have been given specially-protected status.
They are the gems of our historic environment and it's really important
to protect them because once they're gone, they're gone for ever.
So, today's show is all about these buildings of importance - what
is and isn't possible when it comes to extending a listed building.
And if you buy such a building, will you reap the financial rewards
or inherit a historic headache?
The planners will meet
a couple who have bought one of the most beautiful
buildings in Hastings.
Over here by the bar this is going to be the, kind of, dining area,
this will be the kitchen.
And one of the most extraordinary cases we've seen...
We've got a little bit of a problem as to how I'm going to get a
BMW 5 Series down into a cave.
I'm just worried we're going round and round in circles.
But have these applicants bitten off more than they can chew?
Can they combine conservation with appreciation?
And, crucially, by respecting the past are they heading
for financial ruin or financial reward?
The older a building is the more likely it is to be listed.
But not all listed buildings are grand stately homes.
From schools to stations, any structure with special
architectural significance will be protected for the nation.
Taking on such a building brings with it responsibility.
More than half of people do not know what they're getting into
with a listed building. They just absorb money.
They cost a lot of money to improve.
It's very restrictive having a listed building
but, wow, how lovely to live in one.
Hastings was host to William the Conqueror's invasion in 1066
and in the years since this historic event it's collected its fair
share of historic buildings - over 900 at the last count.
Hastings town planners work tirelessly to protect these
structures, from stucco-fronted seaside homes to the historic
pier - soon to be restored.
They are part of our history, tell the story of the development
of the town and they are the character.
St Leonards-on-Sea boasts many of Hastings' finest buildings.
These elegant, classically-styled terraces along the waterfront
were designed and built by James Burton,
a leading architect of the late 18th and early 19th century.
Burton was responsible for designing
and building large parts of Georgian London before turning
his attention to a spectacular seaside resort in St Leonards.
Most of these buildings have been converted into flats, but if you can
get your hands on a five-bed family property you've got yourself a gem.
Prices are on the up.
Two-bed flats start at around £250 grand,
with family homes going for a cool half a million pounds!
One of the most beautiful buildings in the whole area is
the Crown House.
It's a Grade II star listed detached, Georgian villa.
Up until recently it was being used as a pub.
It was a rough old pub and we were wondering who owned it
and the history of it and we started looking into it.
About six months after coming
down here I saw it on an obscure, kind of, for sale website in Maidstone.
Meet Janine Rich.
She and her husband Pete have taken a massive leap of faith.
They've bought this incredible building
and intend to restore it as a family home.
We investigated it as in previous planning
and things that had been done to it in the past or
things that might cause us a lot of complications
which then we wouldn't have pursued buying it,
but it all seemed to be kind of OK, it was manageable.
The Crown House has a grand history.
A young Princess Victoria stayed here before she became Queen
and it's a much-loved landmark in the town.
It's currently a commercial property,
but the Riches have paid £385 to apply for permission to
change its use from commercial to residential.
The problem is, it's listed,
so any kind of change is right royally complicated.
You're looking after it on behalf of the country as a whole
and even though the general public can't just walk in and have a look,
you know, it's your responsibility
to protect it for future generations.
So here's the problem - when it comes to listed buildings,
it's not just the outside features that require special attention.
Planners get involved in every change both outside and in.
They encourage people to restore period homes,
but what planners require for historical accuracy may not
fit the needs of a modern family, causing frustration and conflict.
Having never had a listed building before we didn't realise
the complications that that would involve, but then you don't until you
get into it, you buy it - you don't really know.
But it didn't put us off.
So, how about the all-important finances?
The Riches got this house for an apparent snip at £260,000.
They plan to spend at least £80,000 on the first phase of renovations,
and will save money by doing much of the work themselves.
They're not in a rush,
and they're sitting on a potentially huge investment. When finished
this property could be worth several times what they paid for it.
We're not in any hurry. This is like a long term project so...
..I would say...
..probably, I don't know, five years, ten years
till it's looking immaculate and perfect.
The first phase is to get everything out that's been
put in in the last 60 years.
When we actually move in we're going to be living upstairs and
working on downstairs, so this...
Our plan is that
this will be a living area, an open- plan lounge.
Over here, where the bar is at the moment,
this is going to be a kind of dining area.
And up here this will be a kitchen.
I guess we'll find out as we put in plans what will be OK
and what won't be OK.
Janine and Pete's plan for the perfect home depends on them
getting the crucial first stage of planning permission.
They must get authority to change the use of this
property from business to residential.
Planner Carol Boydell will be paying them a site visit and if she
decides the change of use isn't in the property's best interests, the
Riches' expensive gamble will prove a disaster of historic proportions.
Carol's boss in Hastings Planning Department is Raymond Crawford.
He heads up Planning Management and takes a keen
interest in all listed building projects in the town.
Complex decisions about these buildings require his personal
attention and his legendary calm approach...
but even he is surprised by his next application.
On the face of it it seems like quite an interesting, unusual proposal.
What they want to do is use some caves
at the back of one of the properties on the seafront
for a crime museum.
Meet Joel Griggs - a man who does, indeed, have a most unusual plan.
The Palace Court is another of Hastings' fine listed buildings.
It was once a bustling Victorian hotel
but behind its fine facade lies a network of empty caves.
Joel wants to turn these caves into a ghoulish crime museum...
This is going to be the entrance area and the shop area.
I'm going to have moveable displays with merchandise on them
and the till, probably,
up at that end with a turnstile to let people into the attraction.
Obviously, it's going to need some work to it.
This patch that you see here is a blocked doorway to the caves
so I'm going to open that up
and that will be the main entrance to the caves and exhibits behind.
Joel will charge visitors £7 to see four themed rooms containing his
macabre collection. One of the rooms will be out-of-bounds to children.
This is a cave I'm going to call The Murder Room,
this is going to hold some of the more gruesome exhibits.
Complicated cos it's a listed building. There is
a history of caves being used in that area.
The two pieces of planning permission I have applied for are,
first of all, change of use.
This isn't actually listed as having a use at the moment,
but obviously, it's got to go over to being a visitor attraction.
Alongside the planning permission for it
being a listed building -
the actual Palace Court is a listed building and, as you saw as you walked through,
it's quite splendid and the planners
want to make sure that whatever I do is in keeping with that.
Setting up the museum is a bold move.
Joel was recently made redundant and decided to
turn his hobby of collecting crime memorabilia into a business.
The museum will be stocked with over 400 extraordinary items that Joel's
gathered from police archives, auctions and private collections.
This is the map of the caves...
and I'm starting to put on here what is actually going in
what individual area.
We've got a car
which was used in the recent film... Mesrine.
But we've got a little bit of a problem as to how I'm going to get
a BMW 5 Series down into a cave through a door about that size!
This is 207 million -
the largest drug hall ever, I think it will be very effective
under a spotlight...
Joel estimates it'll cost him £85,000 to set up
the museum, however, if visitor numbers are high enough,
he hopes to rake in £80,000 a year.
This is an artwork done by a serial killer called Michele De Lupo,
who was an Italian hedonist in the '80s.
I've also got a bullet which was from the gun
seized by police after
Reggie Kray shot Jack "The Hat" McVicar
and the gun jammed thus saving McVicar's life for about 20 seconds.
Joel's dreams of setting up his crime museum at the back
of a listed building all hinge on what Raymond thinks of his plans.
If the chief planner doesn't bite the bullet,
it'll be a killer blow for Joel's quirky crime collection.
In St Leonards, it's an important day for Janine Rich
and her husband Pete.
Carol and Raymond are en-route to conduct the crucial site visit.
This will determine
whether the property can be used as a residential dwelling.
If the Rich's don't get this all-important approval,
they'll have bought a total turkey.
-Hi, Janine Baker.
Have you just started downstairs... there was dance floor here.
There was. We've started upstairs, we haven't done anything downstairs as such...
Everything you can see downstairs is just stuff that's come from here,
-And the old bar's been taken out.
Is this going to be a bathroom?
It is, yes.
Our temporary kitchen.
Cos that's the original doorway through there.
That's an example of what might have been the original
-So that's the cupboard?
The planners are keen to see the building returned
to its former glory,
but the couple need to adapt the property for 21st-century living.
Ray and Carol must be convinced that these two aims are compatible.
You're not having any en suites are you? At this stage?
We will try to, yes, if we're allowed to.
That's quite a tricky thing
when you're breaking up room shapes and things.
This is our...will be our living area eventually like a big
that's what we're hoping for. Again,
take up all the floor, get back to the floorboards.
Eventually...we're planning...to go
for our kitchen to be here. Originally, on the old plans, the kitchen was here.
The consultation period has closed.
-That's it, really.
-Thank you very much.
Thank you for showing us round, it's been fascinating.
-Thank you very much.
-It's been nice to meet you.
I think that went really well I was really pleased with
the building, seeing all the cornices still there,
that's a good sign.
Lots of indications of how it's going to look and it
will work as a single family dwelling house, as well.
We want people living in it, we want to retain the building and keep
it structurally safe and it's only going to happen
if people are living in it or it's being used.
Because, otherwise it's just going to deteriorate.
The longer it stays closed.
-It doesn't take long for an empty building to deteriorate.
-I think it was quite a positive meeting.
-It was. Our first one, though.
-It's our first one...
-Things could be different next time but that was good.
It's daunting but exciting...
..and we shall find out in the future.
Fingers crossed for the Rich's.
Joel Griggs wants to create a crime museum in caves behind this
fine listed facade.
His father John, an architect, is helping him with the plans.
But, as always with listed buildings, there are problems a-plenty...
-Hi, I'm Mr Griggs.
-Hello, I'm Ray Crawford.
John and Joel have popped in to the council offices to see
head planner Raymond and planning officer Calum Rowley.
They've come to discuss the crucial issue of signage.
Will they be allowed a sign big enough to
promote their tourist attraction?
The signage is a main issue to the change of the street aspect.
That's what was there originally...
..that's what we'd like to do...
..with a sign that scrolls across here.
Getting rid of that and that.
I suspect that might be an issue...
but there might be, um...
another way of dealing with it.
-My concern is getting as many customers down there as possible.
I have this dreaded fear of making this huge investment down there
and you guys say I can have something
the size of a postage stamp to...
CHUCKLING ..pull the punters in.
-No, well...signage on listed buildings is-is difficult.
Yeah, but we'll try and be realistic...
So will we, definitely.
Although they were suggesting a sign which wouldn't be acceptable to us
they understand why and we will have a think about that
and try and come forward with something that will be...
give them the publicity they need
and also not impact on the listed building.
It's a listed building, they're going to have something to say about it...
they don't want a huge plastic sign
out the front but, obviously, I need the advertisement
and the...curb appeal or whatever they call it
of drawing people in.
The best way to discuss planning problems is to see them in situ.
A few weeks later, Raymond
and Calum head along the seafront to make their all-important site visit.
They start inside, but which way is it going to go?
I suppose the main feature of this area is, of course, the roof light.
-It's just that the glazing needs replacing.
And it needs redecorating.
-So, that's all you're going to do up there?
That will be the entrance into the caves.
You'll see that from the other side.
It's been bricked-up
-but the entrance to the caves is behind there.
And the last one is...over here.
Now I've seen the plans, I hadn't appreciated how big it is.
-Have you got enough stuff to fill it up?
Time to discuss the major planning issue -
changes to the listed facade.
Putting a big sign up on the front of the property may be
a step too far.
When we met before you were hoping to persuade the neighbours to
take off this big fascias and go back to...
-I think we can.
But then the latest drawing you've submitted had
what appeared to be those repainted.
-No, I didn't say that...
I said that's the fall-back position.
I don't like this at all...
It's not reflective of the building, it doesn't do anything for us.
Can't you have a more traditional, projecting hanging sign?
No, no, it's not sufficient...
I'm all right with that, but what's it going to hang off.
It's interesting...I don't know.
I don't know.
We feel we have given it a lot of consideration
and been sympathetic to the building - absolutely.
-Good to see you again.
I'm particularly concerned about the external advertising,
it could become a real issue.
At the end of the day it's a visitor attraction
and I've got to be able to let the public know I'm here.
I want to do that as loudly as possible.
I can understand from their point of view,
cos they want to get on and do the work
and for things to evolve as they go along,
but we can't work like that, we do need some facts,
-something we can actually approve, at the end of the day.
After this visit I think there's more problems than
-what we thought and what they've told us previously.
I'm just worried we are going round and round in circles.
There are nearly half a million listed buildings in the UK,
but not all are ranked of equal importance.
There are several categories - at the very top we have
Scheduled Ancient Monuments and Grade 1 Listed - only a very small
proportion of exceptional buildings fall into these elevated categories.
Then there's Grade 2 Star listed -
and again, this is an exclusive club.
Finally Grade 2 listed buildings make up by far the largest group.
The Palace Court falls into this category
so the structure is protected, but there's some room for manoeuvre.
That's potentially good news for Joel and John.
The Crown House, on the other hand, is Grade 2 star listed.
This puts it amongst the most cherished buildings in the land.
So, will Pete and Janine be allowed to
pursue their dream of transforming it into a modern family home?
today's the day they find out whether they can get the all-
important change of use, from commercial to residential.
I'm going to phone Janine and tell her what the outcome is.
PHONE RINGING TONE
-Oh, hello, is that Janine?
Hello, it's Carol Boydell from Hastings Planning Department.
I'm pleased to tell you both applications have been approved
-and you've got...
-That's fantastic news.
-You are over your first hurdle, anyway.
That's a yes for Janine and Pete! Phew!
Phase one out of the way.
-We're very pleased, aren't we?
-It was a big worry.
-That was the main worry,
change of use, cos without that there wasn't a lot we could do.
We couldn't move on, really.
Back at the council offices, Calum has received amended
plans for the Crime Museum with more acceptable signage, but now there's
a new problem.
There's been three objections and that's why it's
going to go to Planning Committee now, so, er, yeah.
I'm going to recommend approval
for it but, erm...
again it's down to the Planning Committee to decide, at the end of the day,
whether they want to go with my recommendation.
A couple of the objections have been from the same, erm,
party, but different people.
It's mainly regarding access. The other objection is...
that's from the neighbour.
She wasn't too happy with losing quite a lot of signage.
This is a crushing blow for Joel.
With more than two objections, the planners are duty bound to
refer his application to the Planning Committee,
putting his whole project in serious jeopardy.
I wasn't expecting objections,
but I haven't been through this process before.
There's a lot more responsibility when you've got a listed building.
It didn't really occur to me at the time
I first looked at the premises, I must say, cos it is such a complete
toilet at the moment...
Every moment that I'm not open is time I'm not pulling in any money and
so it's all outgoing cash
and nothing's coming in at the moment, which makes it tricky,
so I really do want to get up and running as quickly as possible.
You know, it's a listed building cos it's got a great pedigree and heritage
and history and so on, but you wouldn't know it from looking at it at the moment.
As I say, ever hopeful, ever confident.
Over on St Leonards' promenade, the Rich's are working on the next
step of their project.
They've made some important decisions about how
they want to return the building to its former glory AND make it
fit for a 21st-century family.
So, we've got the change of use to residential use, so now we're
putting in plans for listed-building consent for upstairs and downstairs.
So originally, this was going to be two rooms as it was originally,
but now we've changed our minds, we're going to keep it as one room
as a lounge, it just lends itself with that view to being a lounge.
Here was the bar from that window to here.
That back wall was all covered up, we found those two windows.
Listed building consent will allow Janine
and Pete to alter the structure of the building, but nothing
will be easy - planners will want to be satisfied that all changes,
however minor, reflect the original style and historic importance.
We're going to block this off with a door.
Yeah we were originally going to leave it all open-plan,
but we've decided now that we will section this area off to be a...
-A bedroom for now. For Lee.
-But we will need planning permission
to reinstate the wall there, originally there was a wall there
so, hopefully, it won't be a problem.
And all this is going to be open plan... desk...office over there?
Office over there. Yeah, it will divide itself up nicely.
Because of the building itself being...listed...related
to James Burton and all that...the guy that built the building
and was involved in St Leonards,
it's all been a bit intense, hasn't it, really?
It's had a lot more attention from people that I thought it would get.
Yeah, because of its history. It's a good thing,
because it needs to be kept...
..nice but it make you think what happened
in the last 50 years to allow it to be as it is now?
For virtually all listed buildings, the planning process is not
quick and easy, but the long-term benefits are huge.
It will take Janine and Pete many years to get the home they want,
but, wow, what a home it will be.
Can Joel Griggs also realise his dream?
His hopes of setting up a Crime Museum are in the firing line.
There have been three local objections
and the decision has been referred to committee.
I don't anticipate any problems tonight, but you never know
what might crop up and they might get a bit, kind of,
concerned about the whole access issue
because people do have a Right of Way through the corridor.
And the other thing, they might not be able to get their heads around
the fact they're caves and where the caves are in relation to the rest of the building.
Going to put some photographs up, which, hopefully, will help them
cos what we want to avoid is them deferring the decision for a site visit
which will then delay the whole thing for another month.
We really don't want...don't want to see that.
Hastings' Planning Committee sits once a month to discuss the
most controversial and strategically important planning decisions.
The committee is made up of ten locally-elected councillors.
They hear deputations from all sides before making up their minds.
Remember, if permission is refused, it will not only destroy
Joel's dream, it will be a huge blow to his bank balance...
Well, on the one hand it could go through with no problems
and we'd be up and running, erm...
which, fingers crossed, does happen. Obviously, there's no guarantee of that.
If that doesn't happen then...we're back to square one.
This is the Palace Avenue arcade and caves.
Creation of a tourist attraction within caves to the rear of
I would approve, erm, acceptance of this application, erm...
I think it's rather splendid that we are going to have, touch wood,
another tourist attraction on the seafront.
-Erm...which will improve the town.
-It does look rather dingy
and in need of some action. Seeing the photos...
of what it's like inside, even more so.
the idea that... whatever people will think of the specific topic
of this museum...the fact we're going to have another tourist attraction
and somebody's keen to come and improve the Hastings' tourist offer
has got to be to the erm...
..benefit of the town.
Absolutely. So, it's been proposed and seconded.
We approve it's application - all those in favour...
And that's unanimous.
That's a yes for Joel!
-Over the moon.
-Really, really happy.
I thought it was a real positive result, unanimous.
It was a bit of an unusual application, to be honest,
erm, a true-crime museum is not to everyone's taste.
The thing that was in our favour was that Hastings wants it.
They said they'd be the first through the door so I'll take them up on that!
-But no free tickets!
Joel has planned it and will soon build it.
He hopes his attraction will open within months
and revitalise a once famous Hastings building.
If things go well,
he's hoping to make his 85 grand investment back in 3 years.
A big result.
The Rich's project will take longer, but they're well on their way
to restoring one of St Leonard's finest buildings.
They estimate the house could more than double in value when it's
restored. But with these unique properties, the sky's the limit.
It's a priceless investment for both the family and for the nation.
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