Design is an important consideration in the determination of planning applications and Council’s are keen to encourage high quality building design throughout the Council Area. The Conservation Teams processes all applications for listed building consent, comments on planning applications for development in conservation areas and planning applications where design is an issue. Applicants and their agents are positively encouraged to seek informal advice on proposals at an early stage in the development process. Where necessary, negotiations are undertaken in order to improve the design and quality of the proposals.
Local planning authorities have a statutory duty to designate conservation areas. The identification and designation of such areas is vital for the preservation of a particular local identity or distinctive sense of place. Conservation areas are defined under the legislation as ‘areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’.
It is the special quality and interest of an area as a whole which is of importance. Many are centred on concentrations of historic buildings but also include other features which contribute to the special character of the area such as the spaces enclosed by buildings, a village green for example; historic street patterns; trees or those elements which make up the street scene itself such as shop fronts, steps, railings, walls, lamp-posts etc. This means that any external alterations to buildings including painting, replacement window frames, different roof tiles, external cladding to walls and any new garages, sheds or outbuildings must have planning permission before the work is carried out.
In conservation areas, outline planning permission will not be accepted because without full details we cannot judge the impact of any development proposal. The effects of designation as a Conservation Area include the following:
- applications for development in such areas are advertised in the local press and on site.
permitted development ie. development, usually of a minor nature, for which planning
- permission is not required, is more restricted.
Council’s seek to ensure that new development preserves the character or appearance of the area.
- with the exception of very minor structures, Conservation Area Consent is required prior to the demolition of an unlisted building. the installation of a satellite dish on the chimney stack or on the roof slope or elevation fronting the road needs consent.
Conservation Area Character Statements will be available on your Council’s websites.
Listed buildings within a Council Area are identified by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and are defined as buildings of ‘special architectural or historic interest’. There are three different grades. Grade I listed buildings are those of exceptional interest, such as large country houses, churches or castles. Grade II listed buildings are of special interest and 86% of listed buildings fall into this group. This grade, however, has a sub-group known as Grade II* which is awarded to buildings with some extra merit, for example, a fine interior. Despite the different grades, it is important to remember that the legislation is the same for all of them. Besides buildings, other structures, such as bridges, milestones, walls and even telephone kiosks, can also be listed.
New conservation area designation does not preclude new development, although proposals should pay regard to their context. Very careful consideration is given to all new development and the highest standards of aesthetic control will be applied to proposals within conservation areas. Applicants are encouraged to produce imaginative, high quality design solutions, as an opportunity to positively enhance the area.
This includes internal as well as external alterations. In practice, unless it is a repair using identical materials, it is likely to require consent. It is also worth remembering that all buildings erected within the curtilage of a listed building before 1948 are also afforded the same protection and alterations to them also require consent. Deciding on what needs consent can sometimes be difficult. Some things are obvious e.g. taking down a wall, altering a window or building an extension, but relatively minor alterations, such as changing an internal door or inserting a balanced flue for a gas heater, will also require consent. If you are considering altering your listed building, it is always best to discuss it informally with the Conservation Team before having detailed plans drawn up. This can save you both time and money. In order to make a listed building consent application you will require scaled drawings, showing exactly what you propose to do. These should be submitted together with completed application forms. The good news is that there is no fee payable to the Council. Should the application be refused, you have the right to appeal to the Secretary of State.
The legislation allows courts to impose substantial fines and even imprisonment. This underlines the need to always consult the local authority before carrying out any work affecting a listed building. Owners of listed buildings have a responsibility to keep the building wind and watertight, structurally sound and in a reasonable state of repair.
Council’s are keen to encourage owners to carry out the necessary maintenance work on their buildings and the Conservation Team can offer technical advice on appropriate methods of repair, specialist contractors and suppliers of traditional materials.
If an owner neglects the property, the Council has powers under section 48 of the Planning (Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas) Act 1990 to serve a ‘Repairs Notice’ specifying the extent of works required.
If the owner fails to comply within the time scale specified, the Council may take steps to compulsorily acquire the building to safeguard its future. In the case of an unoccupied or partly occupied listed building, the Council is also empowered under section 54 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 to serve an ‘Urgent Works Notice’ and may carry out works to make the building wind and weather proof and safe from collapse and seek to recover the costs from the owner.
Historic England offer a range of services to support people involved in managing change to the historic environment:
Their Charter for Advisory Services sets out the services they provide and explains when they get involved in planning matters. It also sets out how they handle requests for pre-application and statutory advice.
In most cases local planning authorities will be the first point of contact for advice on proposals for change in the historic environment. Please contact your local Conservation Officer at your local authority in the first instance.
The Heritage at Risk programme helps us understand the overall state of England’s historic sites.
Every year Historic England updates the Heritage at Risk Register. The end result is a dynamic picture of the sites most at risk and most in need of safeguarding for the future. The Register now includes:
- Buildings and structures
- Places of worship
- Archaeological sites
- Conservation areas
- Registered parks and gardens
- Registered battlefields
- Protected shipwrecks