Approvals you need

If you are planning to carry out any works to your flat you may need one or more of the consents explained below. They are important. If you don’t get the right consent, you will have a problem selling your flat – quite apart from risking enforcement action from the City Corporation if they find out. My ‘Unapproved Alterations’ page in the ‘Buying’ section will tell you what consents are required for particular works – e.g. renovating the bathroom or replacing kitchen units.

Listed building consent

It can be a criminal offence to carry out work requiring listed building consent without authority, so consult a surveyor or check with the City Corporation before going ahead.

Landlord’s consent

Under the terms of your lease, you have to get written permission from the Barbican Estate Office before carrying out any alterations which affect the structure (including any fixings to walls) or any alterations to the kitchen and bathroom. You should send them a description of the proposed works and a ‘before and after’ sketch plan or drawing. You’ll need a ‘licence’ approving the works before you start; and a letter after the works are completed approving the way they were done.

Building regulation consent

You may also need Building Regulations Approval from regulatory authorities. Their role is to check that work is carried out properly. If Building Regulations Approval is required, you must get a letter from them when the works have been completed, confirming they comply with building regulations.

Retrospective consent

If when you come to sell, it turns out that you don’t have the necessary consents – e.g. you didn’t get consent when you took out your Garchey or when you laid wood flooring – then you will have to get ‘retrospective consent’ or else undo the works. Don’t take it for granted. You may be in trouble if you have done work requiring listed building consent without permission.

If you have done work which the City Corporation as landlord wouldn’t have approved at the time, they won’t approve it later. In fact, you could be worse off – if their attitude has changed, then they may refuse retrospective permission later for work they might have approved at the time.

They make you open up walls to prove the work was done right.

Barbican rules and tips

The Barbican Estate Office have rules on doing alterations – the hours when your builders can drill – and ‘tips’ – so your carpet installer doesn’t put a nail through the under-floor heating. You can get a copy from them.

Salvage store

Many of the features of Barbican flats are absolutely unique to the Barbican and they aren’t manufactured any longer, so the only way of getting one is from someone else’s flat. Conservation-minded residents had the excellent idea of setting up the Barbican Salvage Group. The idea is to save original fixtures and fittings, so when residents want to restore or replace features in their flats, they will be able to do so. If you are thinking of renovating your flat, please get in touch with the group so they can collect the stuff you are going to be throwing out.


Repairs are not alterations, so if all you are doing is repairing something which has been broken or worn out you probably don’t need to go through the ‘Alterations’ hoops I have described. However, what you hope is just a ‘repair’ may be judged an ‘alteration’ by the Barbican Estate Office. So always check with them and get a letter confirming in a marginal case. You may need it when you sell.