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Conservation Areas

About Conservation Areas

Conservation Areas are defined as areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance via careful management. If your property is within a Conservation Area you may need Planning Permission for some works which would otherwise not need permission. This may include demolition of buildings and boundary walls, and alterations or additions such as side extensions and satellite dishes.

Trees in conservation areas have protection even if they don't have a Tree preservation order (TPO). Check if your property is in a Conservation Area by viewing the Cambridge conservation areas list or South Cambridgeshire conservations areas list. You can also check if your property is in a conservation area by using the South Cambridgeshire planning search map which includes both Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire conservation areas.

If you are unsure what planning permission is needed in a conservation area, you can check with our householder and small business planning advice, though please note that this service is only to clarify what needs permission in a conservation area. For other enquiries about developing in a conservation area please choose Pre-application advice.

Please visit the Conservation Areas  and Listed Buildings pages for more information around these topics.

Alternatively you may refer to the Planning Portal and Historic England  websites which hold useful information around conservation areas and listed buildings.

What needs permission in a Conservation Area?

The special character of conservation areas means that the control of development is stricter than in other areas. This means that:

  • new buildings and the surrounding spaces must preserve or improve the character of the area
  • the siting, scale, height, form, details and building materials will all need to be carefully chosen
  • outline planning applications will not be accepted as it is not possible to judge if the new building will fit into its surroundings.

In Conservation Areas, permission is needed for activities on the list below. This is in addition to normal planning controls.

Demolition requires planning permission if it involves:

  • a building larger than 115 cubic metres in size
  • a fence, wall or railing higher than one metre where it adjoins a road, footpath or open space, or two metres elsewhere
  • more than 10 per cent or 500 cubic metres of an industrial building (previous demolitions count towards this).

House alterations require planning permission if they involve:

  • building an extension to the side of a home
  • building any structures, enclosures, pools or containers at the side of a home
  • building a rear extension of more than one storey
  • building a rear extension of greater than three metres depth for an attached house, or four metres for a detached property
  • cladding the outside of a house
  • materially adding to or altering the roof
  • putting a satellite dish or antenna on a chimney, roof slope or wall which faces onto, and is visible from, the highway; or on a building which is higher than 15m
  • installing, altering, or replacing a chimney, flue or soil vent pipe on a wall or roof slope which fronts a highway and is part of the main or side elevation of the house
  • installing solar photovoltaic (PV) or thermal equipment which would:
    • protrude more than 200 millimetres beyond the plane of the wall or the roof slope when measured from the perpendicular with the external surface of the wall or roof slope
    • result in the highest part of the solar PV or solar thermal equipment being higher than the highest part of the roof
    • be installed on a wall forming the main or side elevation of a house and which would be visible from a highway, or it would be on a wall of a building within the curtilage of a house and would be visible from the highway
    • be installed on a building within the curtilage of the house if the house is a listed building.

Tree works require permission if they involve felling or working on any tree that has a diameter of 75mm or more at a height of one and a half metres. You must give us at least six weeks’ notice of your intention to carry out the work.

Industrial building extensions need planning permission if the building is to be extended by more than 10 percent of its original size.

Controls over works by bodies such as gas and electricity suppliers are stronger in streets within conservation areas.

Illuminated signs need consent in conservation areas.

We recommend you read our what needs permission in a Conservation Area page for more detailed information.

Article 4 Direction: The Accordia Estate

On 21 February 2014, the Council published an Article 4 Direction on the Accordia Estate. This means that certain works to houses which are generally permitted development would now require a planning application. These works are:

  • The infill or enclosure of a recessed entrance or an open terrace area
  • Insertion of a new window opening
  • Removal of a projecting part of a house
  • The recladding of any part of a building in a material of a different type or appearance to the original
  • The provision within the curtilage of a house of a hard surface
  • The alteration or removal of a chimney
  • The erection or construction of a gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure
  • The painting of the exterior of any building or work

The Article 4 Direction [PDF, 0.8MB] came into force on 23 February 2015.