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What is a conservation area?

A conservation area is an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character, appearance or setting of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance.

Conservation areas are normally designated by the local planning authority, however Historic England can designate conservation areas in London.

Once designated, there are some extra planning controls and considerations in place to protect the historic and architectural elements which make the place special.  As a result, they are most likely to affect people who want to work on the outside of their properties. 

When a planning application is submitted for development in a conservation area, in dealing with it the planning authority is required by legislation to pay special attention to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of the area.  The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) acknowledges that not all elements of a conservation area will necessarily contribute to its significance.

In a conservation area there are also more limitations on development, such as an extension to a house, that can be done without planning permission compared with other non-designated areas. In the legislation that allows for “permitted development,” conservation areas are included in a group of designations referred to as Article 2(3) land. Please also see Planning Aid England’s advice headed “Permitted Development in Conservation Areas”.

In addition, there are further controls regarding demolition and works to trees. If you want to cut down or prune a tree within a conservation area you need to notify your local planning authority six weeks before the work is undertaken.  The local planning authority need to assess the contribution the tree makes to the character of the conservation area.

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