A Conversation About Conservation

Most of us have heard of them and there are around 9,300 of these places in the UK, but what exactly is a conservation area?

To use the Oxford English Dictionary’s official definition, it is ‘an area of notable environmental or historical interest or importance which is protected by law against undesirable changes.’

People living in a property that sits within a conservation area are legally obliged to abide by the rules and regulations laid out by their Local Planning Authority at all times. When in the market for home improvements they have to ensure that what’s bought and fitted stays in keeping with the character of the building and the area.

Your starting point should be to check with your Local Planning Authority whether your home sits within a conservation area, and if it does, check if any alterations you intend on having done need prior planning permission and building regulations approval.

As far as demolition in a conservation area is concerned, planning permission must be obtained from the relevant Local Planning Authority to do the following:

• Demolish a building with a volume of more than 115 cubic metres. There are a few exceptions – you can get further information from your council.

• To demolish a gate, fence, wall or railing over 1 metre high next to a highway (including a public footpath or bridleway) or public open space; or over 2 metres high elsewhere.

As a further adage, certain conservation areas have had an article 4 direction placed upon them which is when a planning authority applies to restrict development rights and preserve the architecture of that area.

Flouting planning laws in a conservation area is punishable so don’t take any unnecessary financial risks and contact your local planning authority before you do anything.

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