The Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 creates special controls for areas designated as conservation areas. Conservation area controls apply in addition to normal planning controls.
Conservation areas can be designated by a local authority, by Historic England (only in London), or by the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport. There are approximately 10,000 conservation areas in England.
When considering the designation of conservation areas, local planning authorities should ensure that an area justifies such status because of its special architectural or historic interest, and that the concept of conservation is not devalued through the designation of areas that lack special interest.
If an area is designated as a conservation area, special planning controls apply:
- Minor changes that might otherwise be considered ‘permitted development’ such as adding an extension, installing dormer windows or satellite dishes may not be permitted. Article 4 directions are used by local authorities to remove the right to permitted development. As article 4 directions are specific to particular local authorities, it is important to contact them directly to establish whether minor changes are allowed within a particular conservation area.
- Cutting down , lopping or topping trees must notified to the local authority 6 weeks in advance so that they can consider whether the tree contributes to the character of the conservation area and whether to impose a tree preservation order.
- Proposed developments must preserve or enhance the special architectural or historic character of the conservation area. This does not specifically exclude innovative proposals but they must be sympathetic to their context.
Following the introduction of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, it is no longer necessary to obtain Conservation Area Consent when demolishing unlisted buildings in conservation areas, planning permission will be required instead. Failure to obtain such permission remains a criminal offence.
Local authorities should develop policies to help preserve and enhance the character and appearance of conservation areas. Developers considering projects in conservation areas should contact the local authority conservation officer to find out what the local policies are and whether conservation area consent may be required. When considering an application, the local authority should consider the contribution the proposals would make to preserving or enhancing the conservation area. Decisions will generally take 8 to 13 weeks, and appeals can be submitted to the Secretary of State within 6 months. Applying for conservation area consent is free.
It is a criminal offence to undertake work in a conservation area without consent, and the local planning authority can insist that the work is reversed.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Archaeological officer.
- Article 4 direction.
- Building an extension.
- Conservation officer.
- Conservation practice survey 2016.
- Definition of tree for planning purposes.
- Designated areas.
- Ecclesiastical exemption.
- Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 and listed buildings.
- Historic England.
- Listed buildings.
- National Planning Policy Framework.
- Permitted development.
- Planning authority duty to provide specialist conservation advice.
- Planning permission.
- Principles of conservation.
- Scheduled monuments.
- Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
- Tree preservation order.
- Trees in conservation areas.
- VAT - protected buildings.
Featured articles and news
Director Sean O’Reilly salutes IHBC trustees in his regular ‘Director’s Cut’ article which has also been recast as the IHBC’s annual update in CIfA’s member publication.
The award for Community Contribution (Retired Member) open to a retired IHBC Full Member who has, since their retirement, worked on the historic environment for the good of a community.
A Commons Library briefing paper considers safety and actions to address the risk of accidents caused by unstable memorials in cemeteries in England and Wales.
A Department for Transport (DfT) consultation has just been launched which explores the heritage impacts of proposed developments at Heathrow.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has published growth deals set up to help fund local enterprise partnerships for projects that benefit the local area and economy.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has published guidance on grant funding for projects in England focused on jobs and growth in the rural economy while also offering heritage opportunities.
This event will be organized by the Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) on Cultural heritage on 20 and 21 February in Brussels.
The Belfast Telegraph reports that the building at St Peter's Cathedral in west Belfast has been recommended by the Department of Communities for B1 listing, reserved for some of the most special constructions in the country.