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Planning Permission in Conservation Areas



Planning Permission in Conservation Areas


A conservation area is an area of special architectural or historic interest that has been designated by the local authority for its unique character and appearance. These areas are usually historic town centres and villages that feature a high concentration of listed buildings but can also cover individual buildings. The aim of planning policy relating to conservation areas is to preserve and enhance the special character and appearance of these places.


Conservation area planning restrictions are the rules and regulations that are implemented by local authorities to preserve and protect designated conservation areas to maintain their unique character and appearance. In this article, we’ll explore in detail what limitations conservation area planning restrictions can impose and how they can impact your plans.


The primary goal of conservation area planning restrictions is to preserve the special character and appearance of conservation areas. This can include preserving the most visible historic or architectural features of buildings, trees, and landscape features. Any proposed changes to these areas must be in keeping with the character of the area and should not detract from its special interest. 

The restrictions cover various factors such as the design, appearance, and materials used in any alterations or extensions to properties within the conservation area, regardless of whether they are listed or not. The local authority may require you to submit detailed plans and documentation regarding the proposed changes to assess the impact of the proposed alterations, and permitted development rights for householders in conservation areas are also restricted, particularly where any changes are proposed to the most prominent and visible outside part of a property.

Another key restriction is that any changes made to the external appearance of a property within a conservation area must be in keeping with the area’s character. This means that alterations to features such as windows, doors, and roofs must be sympathetic to the existing design and materials used in the conservation area. Trees and hedgerows are generally also protected, and you may need permission to carry out work on them.


If you’re planning to make changes to a property within a conservation area, you’ll need to obtain planning permission from your local authority. If the project involves any demolition then you’ll need to submit a ‘Demolition in a Conservation Area’ application. If the property is a listed building then a (free) ‘Listed Building Consent’ application will also be required.  The process for obtaining planning permission in a conservation area is similar to that for obtaining planning permission anywhere else, but the local authority will pay particular attention to the impact that your proposed changes will have on the area’s character and appearance and how your plans fit in with the local authority’s conservation policies, which tend to focus on heritage, character and appearance.

To obtain planning permission, you’ll need to submit an application to your local authority. This will need to include detailed plans of the proposed changes, along with the required fee and any supporting documentation that may be required, which can sometimes include a heritage impact assessment. The local authority will then assess your application and may request additional information or changes to the plans before making a decision.


It’s crucial to note that carrying out work in a conservation area without the necessary planning permission or confirmation of lawful development can result in prosecution. This is because the conservation of the area is seen as a public interest matter, and any unauthorised alterations could significantly impact the area’s character and appearance.

Conservation Area planning restrictions are essential regulations that aim to protect and preserve designated conservation areas. If you’re planning to make changes to a property within a conservation area, whether listed or not, it’s vital to understand the restrictions that apply and to obtain the necessary permissions before starting any work. By doing so, you can help to protect these areas for future generations to enjoy, and avoid any legal issues that may arise from non-compliance with the regulations.

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