Conservation areas

Conservation area designation gives the local planning authority some general control over maintaining the area

This includes regulating the demolition of unlisted buildings and the erection of new building within the conservation area and proposing policies designed to preserve or enhance the special characteristics of an area. There are now more than 8,000 conservation areas in England.

What is a conservation area?

Section 69 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 requires local planning authorities to define as conservation areas any ‘areas of special architectural or historic interest the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’.

In practical terms, what does conservation area status mean?

In all conservation areas, special planning permission is required for the following alterations:

  • the complete or substantial demolition of an unlisted building or structure. In general, consent will not be granted for the demolition of buildings that make a positive contribution to the character or appearance of a conservation area
  • any alteration or addition to the roof of any property in a conservation area
  • rear or side extensions to single family dwelling houses which exeed 50 cubic metres or 10% of the original volume of the property (whichever is the greater)
  • the cladding of any part of the exterior of a building with stone, artificial stone, timber, plastic or tiles
  • the erection of any building (e.g. shed, summer house) or enclosure (e.g. swimming pools) within the curtilage of a house, which exceeds 10 cubic metres in volume.
  • Satellite antennae may not be fixed on a chimney, on a wall or roof facing the street, or on a building which exceeds 15 metres in height.

In addition, local authorities can impose Article 4 Directions, which give additional controls to restrict certain works that would normally be allowed as ‘permitted development’, for example to prevent people from installing plastic-framed windows, adding porches or paving over front gardens to make hardstandings for cars.

How does the The Victorian Society influence planning decisions in conservation areas?

Local planning authorities are under no statutory obligation to consult the The Victorian Society over applications for alterations of demolitions of unlisted buildings within conservation areas. Some do, however, choose to consult us. When resources are stretched, we have to give priority to Listed Building Consent consultations, but when resources permit and it is appropriate, we will provide an opinion.