The Queen’s property empire and the Duke of Westminster are lobbying for an overhaul of listed building rules that would allow them to install heat pumps in swathes of historic properties across London.
The Crown Estate and the Duke’s property business Grosvenor Group are pushing for new regulations so it is easier to make green energy upgrades to premises with protected status.
As well as the pumps – an alternative to gas boilers which use electricity to draw heat from the ground or air – reform would also pave the way for the installation of double glazing and insulation.
At present, these upgrades require listed building consent, which can take eight weeks to complete using a process that varies hugely between different councils and can cost thousands of pounds in consultancy fees.
Grosvenor and the Crown Estate own swathes of London around St James, Soho and Regent Street. If existing rules are overhauled, then they will be able to make changes that will affect the appearance of the most historic West End shopping districts.
In an annual review of the company, Grosvenor said it was lobbying to cut red tape from the listed building consent process, which impacts half a million properties in the UK.
Grosvenor said: “Around 500,000 buildings in England are protected by statutory listing and hundreds of thousands more are situated in conservation areas.
“Adapting these buildings to be more energy efficient and reducing their environmental impact is currently a complicated and costly process.
“Policy that is inconsistent and inconsistently applied, together with fragmented guidance offer little help to building owners, leaving a substantial percentage of buildings vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.”