South Thanet is home to over 1,500 listed properties, playing a vital part in Britain's historic landscape. In my mind it is important that we preserve these major national assets to ensure that our historical culture thrives and is enjoyed by all for generations to come.
What is a Listed property?
Marking a property as 'Listed' identifies it as an important asset to our heritage; this protects it by law from destruction and makes it mandatory to file an application to make any alterations to the valuable building.
As the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Listed Properties, I wrote a letter in February to the Chancellor to urge him to reduce the VAT from 20% to 5% for making alterations to a listed property. It is of great importance that owners maintain these historic properties but the time it takes to apply, in conjunction with the cost, is a major obstacle to this. From 2011 to 2015 alone, the number of applications processed has dropped by 44%. This is an issue I will continue to work on solving.
Along with this, I have been working closely with the Listed Property Owners' Club (LPOC) to make sure that their concerns are heard. Since August 2015, I have been taking part in meetings and events they hold, allowing me to chat with listed property owners from South Thanet and across the country to hear about their own experiences. In October 2016 I hosted the LPOC Forum in Parliament, which represented a big step forward for listed property owners. A number of my own colleagues were in attendance, which helped to raise awareness for the issues facing listed properties and owners in general.
I have also been working with local councils to improve traffic moving through Sandwich and the Villages. There has been a real problem involving HGVs commuting through narrow roads in Sandwich and other conservation areas, causing damage to listed buildings. This is an issue I am determined to tackle, and you can find out more here.