Curtilage is an important legal concept when it comes to property and land. It refers to an area of land attached to a house, which forms one enclosure with that house – for example, a garden, a yard or an outbuilding. Curtilage is a way of legally defining a boundary wherein a homeowner or resident can expect reasonable levels of privacy. It also affects legal matters like trespassing, burglary, search and seizure, and land use planning.
Curtilage is legally defined as "the enclosed space of ground and buildings immediately surrounding a dwelling-house”, or "the open space situated within a common enclosure belonging to a dwelling-house." Not all buildings have a curtilage.
In some cases, the extent of the curtilage will be clearly defined, for example with a fence or a wall. In other cases, the boundary may not be as clear and might need to be assessed. To determine the extent of a curtilage like this, the decision-maker would consider the property’s physical layout, its past and present ownership, and its past and present use.
Curtilage and Listed Buildings
The concept of curtilage is used to define the boundaries of a property affected by a listing.
UK law states that any buildings or structures within the curtilage of a listed building are to be treated as part of the listed property, provided they pre-date July 1948. This means that altering or demolishing the curtilage structures of a listed building may require special permission. Carrying out works without that permission is a criminal offence.
If you’re the owner of a listed home, it’s essential to consider the full extent of your property’s curtilage and to include those considerations in any plans you might have for renovations and refurbishment.
The Bidwells Approach to Curtilage in Historic Buildings
Bidwells takes a practical yet sensitive approach to works on listed properties, with an understanding that preserving our architectural heritage is important. Our specialist team is able to help with converting or refurbishing the curtilage structures of protected buildings, by providing the following:
- Heritage analyses and statements
- Structural and building survey reports on critical works to be carried out
- Sensitive design
- Heritage planning advice
- Feasibility studies
Our approach has given our clients some stellar results, as you can see with projects like the conversion of curtilage listed barns in the garden of a listed UK farmhouse. Contact our heritage team to find out what we can do for you.