I went to my local town hall to ask about planning permission to redo the roof. The guy asked me what exactly I wanted to do and I told him: remove the old traditional tiles, replace all the sagging battens with sturdier ones, replace all the old tiles except those that are broken/cracked which I'll replace with salvaged tiles of the same type. He just shrugged his shoulders and said it was fine and not to bother with any formalities as it was a straight like-for-like renovation. Similarly, whilst property hunting, I found another house I was interested in and asked the town hall about the possibility of knocking down a non-load-bearing wall and moving it a metre to make room for indoor plumbing. The response was words to the effect of "what you do inside your own house it your own business. If it can't be seen from the road, we're not interested."
The downside to this is that there are people in the village who have unsympathetically modernised their houses. Case to point, the house opposite me was a classic example of 19th century plasterwork in the local style. I'm rubbish at posting pics but click here and you'll see it: http://www.icomos.ro/hr/pdf/FISA%20SASCHIZ%20177.pdf
. You can't see it well, but there is a good example of plasterwork just behind the tree in the 'A' of the roof. Many of the older local properties have some kind of inset plasterwork design, often a heart or something resembling a club or spade (as in the card suit).
Unfortunately, the house now looks like: http://mihaelagui.blogspot.ro/2012/07/saschiz-pit-stop.html
(scroll down to the orange house). All the traditional plasterwork was hacked off, the walls were lined with polystyrene, plastered, and painted this lurid orange colour.
In many way, I feel a house owner should have the right to do what he/she will with a property, as long as it doesn't inconvenience neighbours (maybe having to wear sunglasses to look at your neighbour's house counts as an inconvenience!), and some of the planning restrictions in the UK are ridiculous. However, I really think more should be done to restrict the destruction of historical façades.
Same goes for small businesses. If people are happy to buy bread off someone, and are happy with their quality and hygiene standards, that should be their look out. Small local village businesses will soon go out-of-business if the quality drops, so they are more or less self-regulating.