Conservation Areas

What is a Conservation Area?

A conservation area is an area of preservation that is designated by the local authorities. The purpose of a conservation area is for the protection and management of the interest of a particular place. This interest is usually either architectural and/or historical; which help to make the area unique in some way. According to Historic England, “every local authority in England has at least one conservation area and there are now over 10,000 in England.”

The following Histogram below is taken from a final report, published in 2012: “An assessment of the effects of conservation areas on value*, by Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt*, Nancy Holman* & Nicolai Wendland*, (The London School of Economics and Political Science).

Since approximately 1967, (when conservation areas were first designated), conservation areas hold a high value, particularly by individuals living and working within those areas.

At present, conservation areas usually fall into either of the following categories (including but not limited to):

– Fishing Towns/Villages.
– Suburban areas dating from the 18th-20th Century.
– Mining Towns/Villages.
– The centre of Historic cities.
– The centre of Historic villages.
– The centre of Historic towns.
– Certain Housing projects or estates, particularly of a late 20th century period.
– Country homes set within its rightful historic park.

Swaledale and Arkengarthdale; which is, situated within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, is recognised as the largest conservation area, covering over 17,500 acres of land! To add further perspective, this vast landscape, provides protection for roughly a thousand traditional farm buildings, as well as the dry-stone walls that intersect the area. This means that this particular conservation area is only fractionally smaller than Guernsey!

How do I know if I live in one?

To confirm if you currently live within a conservation area, it would be wise to contact your local planning authority. The local planning authority will be able to disclose the following:

– When the conservation area was first created.
– The purpose for the creation of a conservation area.
– The current level of protection that a conservation area has in place, legally.

The existences of conservation areas will more than likely, affect homeowners. In this case, it will refer to homeowners who want to carry out work on the exterior of the property, including any trees found on the property. This, will also of course include, set parameters in place, i.e. additional planning regulations and thoughts towards the wider impact of each building project.

However; majority of local planning authorities, have the power to prepare appraisals for conservation areas. Appraisals usually detail the conservation area’s history and its uniqueness.
Conservation area appraisals will also provide further guidelines, regarding the management and implementation of developmental work, being carried out within the conservation area.

Fortunately, homeowners can have a say in how the conservation area, which they abide in, is managed. In fact, it isn’t uncommon, for local communities, to work with their local authorities, in order to prepare conservation area appraisals and plans for its management.

It is also worth consulting with a local planning authority to see if supplementary planning documents are available for the conservation area that you currently live in, as a homeowner. If available, local planning authorities are able to provide supplementary planning documents, correlating to their intended conservation area respectively. The purpose of supplementary planning documents is simply to present how the local authority intends to manage the conservation area over a long-term period.

What does this mean regarding doing renovation work on my house?

By living and or/owning a home within a conservation area, this would affect the renovation work, that you could do, without planning permission. This is because, conservation areas tend to have special controls applied, also known as “Article 4 Directions”. This means, that D.I.Y tasks, such as, replacing doors or even amending the guttering, would be restricted.

Article 4 Directions; vary depending on the area of the local authority. They are determined, based on particular features of a building or buildings that are considered for protection. By contacting the local authority, they should be able to provide confirmation on if an Article 4 Direction applies to your local area or not.

Renovation work including the: cutting down, topping and lopping of any trees within a conservation area, requires consulting with the local planning authority, first. It is important that they are given at least six weeks’ notice, before any work should commence. The local planning authority will then come to a decision, as to whether the tree or trees in question add to the conservation area’s character and also if a Tree Preservation Order is required to preserve them.

This of course, stems down to a personal preference of taste and many of the criteria are in fact widely available to interpretation. To access these criteria, they should be made available on your local council’s website.

Demolition projects are also restricted and require planning permission. The exception to this is of course, if a building happens to be listed, then this will require Listed Building Consent.

Permitted Development rights operate slightly differently, in areas of conservation, as opposed to local areas. So, for example, in order to make an alteration to the home, such as, adding cladding or making an essential repair, this will require proceeding with applications for certain types of development; which, wouldn’t usually command, a planning application, in local areas that aren’t considered to be areas of conservation.  

Gaining the necessary planning permission is usually straightforward. It is often best for a potential homeowner to seek expert professional legal advice from a qualified solicitor who specialises in property law.  Architects, who are well-versed in matters, concerning conservation areas and local authorities, are also very reliable sources of expert advice. 

However; there are financial prospects of owning a property within a conservation area. Many will value a conservation area due to the: uniqueness, historic character and aesthetic appeal of it. Potential homeowners may also learn that, a conservation area’s value is also reflected in the properties’ price within the conservation area. Fortunately, there is a school of thought, that these properties tend to be more expensive, but will also see a greater appreciation in price, compared to homes in other local areas.

References & Topic Research (Bibliography)

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