May 16, 2024 By Lewis Cooney

Conservation areas

What is a conservation area?

Conservation areas are locally defined protected spaces. They usually have a particular architectural or historic significance that the local government and community are keen to protect. It doesn’t just have to be the houses that are special though. Conservation areas can also be put in place to protect: the layout of roads, green spaces & trees, or the historic character of a particular neighbourhood.

If a building is in a conservation area, the owner will face a variety of restrictions on how they can change or develop it. Because decisions on which areas are protected are made at local level, the restrictions that come on conservation areas, some changes are still allowed, but you’ll have to apply for consent or planning permission before you start work. The best way to find out the exact rules affecting your property is to get in touch with the relevant planning authority.

There are about 10,000 conservation areas in England. They are not necessarily the well-off parts of town or the oldest areas, but they do need to be both preservable and worth preserving.

Types of conservation areas

  • The centres of our historic villages, towns and cities
  • Fishing and mining villages
  • 18th, 19th and 20th-century suburbs
  • Model housing estates, including late 20th century housing projects
  • Country houses set in their historic parks

Permitted development

Permitted development rights are slightly different in conservation areas compared to other areas. This means that you need to make planning applications for some forms of development which would not need such applications outside conservation areas. For example:

  • Detailed residential changes like two-storey extensions, dormer windows, and stone – cladding
  • Extensions to retail premises (smaller floorspace increases; appearance should match the existing; limitations to click and collect facilities)
  • Industrial and warehouse buildings (smaller floorspace increases)
  • Controls on materials for buildings on the site of a school, college, university or hospital
  • Limitations on change of use such as retail or agricultural to dwelling house

I hope this article has helped you have a more clear understanding of the restrictions and regulations involving conservation areas and also helping you have a understanding on conservation areas as a whole.