Last edited 10 Jul 2023

Conservation area advisory committees CAAC


[edit] What are CAACs?

Conservation area advisory committees (CAAC) have a strong connection with the history of conservation areas and the Civic Amenities Act of 1967, shortly after which the first conservation area in Highgate, London was established. The first advisory committees started to appear in the 1970s, and there has continued to be government policy to support community involvement in them: “to create a sense of ownership in the locality and help strengthen local communities” (Ref the government’s statement on The Historic Environment for England, 2010).

[edit] Membership

The membership of a local CAAC comprises people with an interest in the built environment and its heritage, drawn from local amenity societies, residents' associations, independent historical, architectural and planning experts, and local residents and businesses. There is no statutory duty for councils to operate or facilitate CAACs, nor is there national guidance on how they should be organised or operated. They are independent of the Council and any local person can stand for election.

[edit] Local focus

There is a strong relationship between locally listed buildings or a local interest list and the local CAACs because both are seen to act in the interests of local heritage but outside of any statutory obligations, so in an advisory manner. In the same way that councils are not obliged to support CAACs, they are also not obliged to draw up lists of local buildings that are deemed of historical, architectural or cultural significance. However many councils do hold lists of buildings that are not deemed significant enough for national listing criteria but are worthy of note locally. The criteria for this varies from council to council.

[edit] Role and responsibility

The main role of a CAAC in the planning process is to provide a local focus and knowledge in respect of conservation and heritage matters. This is done by meeting regularly and commenting on planning and conservation area consent applications. Often applications will be sent to the local CAAC for comment.

In determining applications in conservation areas, planning officers and planning committee members benefit from the local knowledge that can be gained from the observations and comments provided by the local CAACs. It is important to note again the role of the local CAAC is in an advisory capacity only, and as such comments are taken as a material consideration in planning applications on the same basis as any other material consideration.

CAACs also comment on public works (other than general maintenance) to the highway, public open spaces, and other Council-managed space within conservation areas. They can recommend buildings for statutory listing by contacting English Heritage, assist in reviews of the council's register of locally listed buildings of merit, and make comments on the contents of draft conservation area character appraisals and other draft planning policies.

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