Conservation areas

What is a conservation area?

Conservation areas are areas which have been designated as such because of their special architectural or historic interest and where it is beneficial to preserve or enhance their character or appearance. There are now more than 8,000 conservation areas in England. These areas are important for their special qualities e.g. historic buildings, the layout of the settlement; open spaces etc.

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Is my property in a Conservation Area?

There is a full list of all Conservation Areas in the District with maps of their boundaries available on the Council web site.

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How are conservation areas designated?

Conservation areas are designated by the Council, on the basis of whether the area is of special architectural or historic interest and whether it would be beneficial to preserve or enhance that character or appearance. Once a proposed boundary has been identified public consultation is carried out. Once a final boundary has been formally agreed the Council has to place formal notification of this in the London Gazette and one local newspaper.

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Can a conservation area boundary be altered once it has been designated?

Yes, the Council can undertake boundary reviews to identify potential extensions or de-designations. Such boundary reviews are normally undertaken during the preparation of a ‘character appraisal’ for the area.

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What is a Conservation Area appraisal and management plan?

Conservation Area appraisals set out what is important about an area in terms of its character, architecture, history, development form and landscaping. The management plan sets out various positive proposals to improve the character and appearance of the Conservation Area.

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What is a Conservation Area Statement?

These have been replaced by Conservation Area Appraisals and Management Plans, but were similar in describing the Conservation Area etc.

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Does the Council have any detailed information about individual conservation areas?

The Council has prepared Character Appraisals for the Conservation Areas in Cirencester. There are also some old style Conservation Area Statements for certain Conservation Areas.

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What are the Council planning policies for development in conservation areas?

The Councils follow the guidance in Planning Policy Statement 5 - Planning for the Historic Environment and development proposals are considered on the basis of whether they preserve and enhance the character and appearance of the relevant Conservation Area.

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How does living in a conservation area affect me?

If you live in a Conservation Area you should be aware that additional planning controls may apply. You may require Conservation Area Consent for certain types of development and demolition. You are also required to notify the Council of any proposed works to trees (s.211 notification to carry out works to trees in a Conservation Area)

In some Conservation Areas permitted development rights are removed by serving Article 4 Directions This means you may need to apply for planning permission for minor works. These can include such things as replacement windows and doors, removal of chimney stacks and boundary walls and replacement roof materials.

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How do I apply for conservation area consent?

Further information is available on the Planning Portal or on the Planning pages of the Council web-site.

Planning Permission

Almost all external alterations and extensions to an existing building require planning permission. However, certain small extensions and other alteration are granted planning permission automatically where they affect a house which is occupied as a single family dwelling – that is to say, it is lived in by one family only, not sub divided to form flats. Within a Conservation Area these permitted development rights are more limited, and exclude for example certain types of cladding, the insertion of dormer windows and satellite dishes, all of which therefore require planning applications. In Scotland changes in a roof covering are also excluded.

Permitted development rights for a prescribed range of developments may also be withdrawn by the local authority under an Article 4 Direction. This enables the local authority to control certain types of alteration, which do so much damage to the character of conservation areas, such as the alteration or removal of doors and windows in particular.

No separate application is required where an unlisted building lies within a Conservation Area, but the policies of the local authority should be carefully notes as local authorities are required to pay special attention to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of that area when considering an application for planning permission.

Conservation Area Consent

The demolition of a building requires Conservation Area consent if the building is situated within a Conservation Area (Prior to the case of Shimuzu v Westminster City Council in 1997 demolition was taken to include the demolition of part of a building, such as a chimney stack or a front Porch. However, on appeal the House of Lords ruled that there removal of part of a building constituted an alteration, not demolition. As a result the demolition of a part of a building in a Conservation Area no longer requires Conservation Area consent, not matter how important that part is to the character of the building and of the Conservation Area.

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What are Article 4 Directions?

An Article 4 Direction restricts permitted development rights, i.e. it means that you have to have permission to carry out some works for which you would not normally require planning permission, for example replacing windows; placement of satellite dishes etc.

An Article 4 Direction is made by the Local Planning Authority, under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order, 1995. It restricts permitted development rights, i.e. development that property owners would normally be able to undertake without additional planning permission, for example replacing windows. It does not in itself prohibit any action but means that a property owner is required to seek planning consent whereas without the Direction this would not be necessary.

Each Article 4 consists of some legal background, a map to show which properties are covered by the Article 4 and a list of those works for which permitted development rights have been removed.

There is not normally a fee for a planning application to carry out works that would otherwise have been permitted development, if an article 4 had not been served.

There are several types of direction:

Article 4 (2) Directions

These are used in Conservation Areas, to ensure that inappropriate development that might harm the Conservation Area does not take place. They do not usually apply to the whole Conservation Area, just certain properties. The specific Article 4(2) direction will describe those works that require planning consent; these might include replacing windows, removing stone roofing slates etc.

Article 4 (1) Directions

These can be used in similar ways to Article 4(2) directions, but their use is not limited to Conservation Areas. They require additional approval from the Secretary of State before they are fully operational.

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Is my property covered by an Article 4 Direction?

There are a number of Article 4 directions in the Region, including parts of the following towns and parishes: Pickering, Kirkbymoorside

Further information, including copies of the Articles and maps to show the relevant properties, please speak to the relevant Conservation Officer for the area.

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What considerations will apply in determining my Conservation Area consent application?

The prime consideration for determining conservation area consents is the preservation or enhancement of the area's character. Particular considerations of importance include:

the part played in the architectural or historic interest of the area by the building for which demolition (or works) is proposed the wider effects of demolition (or other works) on the building's surroundings and on the conservation area as a whole.

The general presumption is in favour of retaining buildings which make a positive contribution to the character or appearance of a conservation area.

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What should I do if I notice unauthorised work being carried out in a Conservation Area?

If you are concerned that unauthorised works are being carried out in a conservation area then you should contact the Council’s Enforcement team.

Unauthorised demolition is a criminal offence.

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How do I find out if my property includes a scheduled monument?

The magic web-site can be searched for the location of many designations, including scheduled monuments.

Additional information can also be obtained from the Heritage Gateway website or the local Historic Environments Record Office.

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What does it mean if my property includes a scheduled monument?

A scheduled monument is protected against disturbance (and unlicensed metal detecting.)

Written consent must always be obtained before any work (with the exception of work related to agriculture or gardening, where these activities are already being carried out) can be undertaken. Some development may also need planning permission.

The sympathetic management of monuments is encouraged and English Heritage has locally based monument wardens who can offer owners more detailed advice on how to manage their monuments. Grants may also be available via agri-environment schemes.

It is a against the law to damage a scheduled monument by carrying out works without consent, cause reckless or deliberate damage or use a metal detector or remove an object found with one without a licence from English Heritage.

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How do I obtain Scheduled Monument Consent?

Information on obtaining Scheduled Monument Consent is available from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and English Heritage.

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Buildings at Risk Register?

The Council usually holds a Buildings at Risk Register (2004). The most important buildings at Risk in the District are also included in the English Heritage Buildings at Risk register and are included in the lists held by Save Britain's Heritage.

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What can the Council do about neglected listed buildings?

The Council has legal powers to serve an Urgent Works Notice or Repairs Notice on a listed building owner, requiring repair works to be carried out to prevent further decay. The notice will specify the works, which are considered reasonably necessary for the preservation of the building. An Urgent Works Notice is restricted to emergency repairs only - for example works to keep a building wind and weather-proof and secure against vandalism. A Repairs Notice is not restricted to urgent works and may include works to preserve architectural details but can not be used to restore lost features.

In extreme cases where building owners have not taken reasonable steps to preserve a listed building, the Council can do the work at the owner's cost or compulsorily purchase a Building at Risk.

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Conflicts between Building Conservation and the Environment

Building Conservation is concerned specifically with the preservation or adaptation of structures/sites in order to accommodate original or other suitable uses, in a way that retains the maximum amount of historic fabric and character originally employed.

Ubiquitous treatments involving the removal of structural timbers, panelling and plaster followed by a deluge of chemicals, has now given way to a more controlled approach by eliminating moisture ingress, followed by a gradual drying down and a minimum replacement of timbers and important surfaces. Monitoring systems provide early warning of changed conditions that could lead to further outbreaks. English Heritage’s research of death watch beetle has shows that in the past many of the chemical used wiped out whole eco systems, including various species of spiders, which have been shown to provide a level of effective control of beetle numbers. However, it would be pointed out that the chemicals now on the market are appropriate in specific and targeted situations.

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