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What needs permission in a Conservation Area?

In a conservation area, local authorities must take in to account the need to preserve or enhance the area’s special character when deciding whether to grant planning permission. Applications are considered against conservation policies and can be refused on conservation grounds alone.

Proposals that would harm the character of buildings which make a positive contribution to the character of the area are unlikely to be permitted, as are proposals that would damage the character of the area as a whole.

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 enhance 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, in addition to the usual requirements for planning permission, it is also needed for some changes that would be considered 'permitted development' outside of a conservation area. There are also provisions specific to the Accordia estate within the Brooklands Conservation Area

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

The guidelines given below are subject to changes based on specific proposals. It is always recommended you seek our Pre-application advice before commencing any work to your property to clarify whether or not planning permission is required. Works carried out without the relevant planning permission will be liable to enforcement action.

Remember, if you are in a listed building which is located in a conservation area, the listed building regulations take precedence over the conservation area regulations.

Conservation area guidance on repairs and alterations

Demolition of outbuildings, walls etc

In a conservation area, it is preferred that existing buildings and their details are retained as it is often the pattern provided by buildings which cumulatively gives the area its character. Where demolition is necessary, planning permission is required if it is necessary to demolish 

  • a building with a volume of more than 115m3 in size, including any previous demolition.
  • a fence, wall or railing higher than 1m where it adjoins a road, footpath, waterway or open space, or 2m elsewhere.
  • more than 10% or 500m3 of an industrial building (previous demolitions count towards this).

In addition, in conservation areas covered by an Article (4) Direction, some other types of development normally permitted outside conservation areas may be restricted such as the total or partial demolition of any boundary wall. Please refer to Conservation Areas for information on Article (4) Directions.

Planning applications which involve the substantial or total demolition of any house or building in a conservation area will be refused unless it can be demonstrated that its individual loss, and any subsequent harm caused to the character of the conservation area, is outweighed by the significant public benefit of the development. In such a case only high-quality buildings in terms of design and materials will be considered.

If there is any doubt regarding compliance with the above criteria, it is recommended that you seek our advice through Pre-application advice before you commence any work. Also refer to Planning Portal and Historic England website for any additional information. For conservation areas list, visit Conservation Areas  and for listed buildings, please visit our page Listed Buildings. 

Doors and windows

These features are important elements which contribute to the attractiveness of buildings and streetscapes. Changes to the size or location of window and door openings should be avoided and would require planning permission.

Subject to the GPDO requirement that, ‘materials used in any exterior work shall be of a similar appearance to those used in the construction of the existing dwelling house’, replacement doors or windows within existing openings in a dwelling house (as distinct from flats and other buildings) do not need planning permission (except on Listed Buildings or where an Article 4 Direction applies).

In line with sustainable practice, repair rather than replacement is encouraged. If the originals remain and are in repairable condition, consider having them refurbished to improve their energy efficiency and security.

If it is necessary to replace windows or doors, choose replacements carefully to ensure they are sympathetic to the building and street. Points to consider:

  • Match the style of the original in multi-pane or glazing bar layout and the way they open. If you are replacing non-original windows, find out what was originally typical of the street or building type.
  • Which energy efficient glazing or window types are compatible with the character of the building including the original windows.
  • Choice of materials and colour – consider the character and appearance of the building and the street.

For a house

For a flat

  • When repairing or maintaining the original windows or doors – planning permission is not required.
  • When replacing windows or doors – you will need to apply for full planning permission (permitted development rights do not apply).

Please choose our Pre-application advice  for further information.

Dormer windows / Roof lights

Roof-lights are permitted development under the GPDO, if they:

  • do not extend more than 150mm above the slope of the original roof; and
  • are not higher than the ridgeline of the original roof.

There are additional criteria on side roof slopes, including:

  • the glass being obscured; and
  • window is non-opening where it is less than 1.7 metres above the floor level.

If the house is a listed building and you comply with the above requirements, a listed building consent is required but not householder planning permission. If the property is a flat, the permitted development does not apply, and you will need full planning permission.

In a conservation area, dormer windows on all roof slopes require planning permission. Dormers on rear roof slopes may be acceptable if the impact on the street is limited. On front roof slopes, they may be only acceptable where dormer windows are an original feature of the house or in streets where there is a large number of front dormers, which have materially altered the visual appearance of the street.

In all cases, dormer windows should reflect the architectural character of the existing building and its neighbours in their form, detailing and materials. Dormers should be well spaced and positioned within the existing roof slope, set in from the party wall on each side and down from the ridge. Generally, the width of a single dormer should not exceed half the width of the roof.

Please contact our advice service if you need any further information.

Loft Conversion

Roof extensions in conservation areas require planning permission. If the roof requires the raising of the eaves or ridge levels this should be carefully considered, and it is unlikely to be acceptable if it alters the uniform line of a terrace of properties, for example. The aim should be to keep alterations to the outside of the roof to a minimum. Refer to our Adopted Local Plans  section for more guidance on roof extensions design. For any further information check with the Pre-application advice .

Extensions, Render & Cladding

As individual buildings within a conservation area make a contribution to the character of that area, the management of extensions and external alterations is more important. You will need planning permission if you intend to –

  • clad any part of the exterior with, for example, stone, artificial stone, pebble dash, render, timber, plastic or tiles; or
  • extend beyond a wall forming a side or front elevation of the original house; or
  • extend at the rear by more than one storey.
  • extend with a veranda or balcony.
  • enlarge the house upwards immediately above the topmost storey by the construction of additional storeys,

Where this is not the case, you may be able to extend or alter the house as long as it complies with the following requirements –

  • Height - it is single storey, being less than a maximum of 4 metres high or where within 2 metres of a boundary has a maximum eaves height of 3 metres.
  • Site coverage - the total area of ground covered will not exceed 50% of the area remaining, after excluding all other buildings on the site.

Refer to the Planning Portal or Historic England website for any additional information. Contact our Pre-application advice if you are unsure about anything.

Basement work

New basements, extensions to existing basements and associated works such as light wells require planning permission. If you want to make a basement habitable then it should be of a sufficient height and have access to adequate natural light.

In the case of shallow gardens, front light wells may also be acceptable where there is a traditional or established pattern in the street. In streets where basements light-wells are not a traditional or established feature, the excavation required can have a significant impact on the appearance of the house and the in this case, light-wells are unlikely to be acceptable.

Outbuildings and temporary structures

For houses in a conservation area, as long as you follow some simple rules, a planning application is not required for outbuildings, whether they are proposed to be permanent or temporary.

Outbuildings include sheds, shelters, greenhouses, garages, swimming pools, ponds, saunas, tennis courts, kennels, summer houses and the like. Please verify with us through Pre-application advice

to ensure you meet all the requirements for the type of outbuilding you are considering.

The main points to consider are:

  • Location – is not at the side or front of the property.
  • Height – less than 4 metres (2.5m to the eaves) where having a pitched roof, 3 metres for a flat roof or where within 2 metres of any boundary, less than 2.5 metres.
  • Area covered – no more than half (50%) the area of the land around the house. You must include all other buildings, structures and extensions before calculating the area.
  • Type – is not a veranda or balcony. If decking, is not more than 300mm high.
  • Use – must be ancillary to the use of the house. It cannot be a separate self-contained dwelling.

Where the property is a listed building, the permitted development rights under GPDO do not apply and planning permission and listed building consent are required for any new outbuildings. If the property is a flat, the GPDO does not apply, and full planning permission is required. For more information on listed buildings please visit our Listed Buildings page and  Historic England website. Use our Pre-application advice for verification and more information.

New boundaries, fences and railings

If you want to put up a new boundary wall, fence, railings or gate that is over one metre high and it is next to a highway used by vehicles (or the footpath of such a highway); or over two metres high elsewhere you will need planning permission.

This applies to houses in and outside of conservation areas. You'll also need to check if your property is subject to an Article (4) Direction before changing.

More information can be found in Conservation Areas  or choose our Pre-application advice for more advice.

Painting the house

The repainting of an exterior wall in the same colour is a form of repair / maintenance and does not constitute development under planning legislation, which means planning permission will not be required (unless exceptionally, repainting is covered in an area subject to an Article (4) Direction discussed above).

More information can be found in Conservation Areas.  Please seek our pre-application-advice for any further information.

Solar panels

Solar panels can be installed on a house or flat, or on a building within the curtilage, under the GPDO where they –

  • panels must not be fitted to a wall which fronts a highway.
  • Panels should not be installed above the highest part of the roof (excluding the chimney) and should project no more than 200mm from the roof slope or wall surface.

There are other stipulations about stand-alone solar equipment (panels not on a building but within the grounds of a house or a block of flats)

 Where the property is a listed building or the proposal is to install the equipment on a building within the curtilage of a listed building, planning permission and listed building consent is required. More information on listed building can be found in Listed Buildings.

Satellite dishes and antennas

For houses, or flats in buildings less than 15metres high, flue, chimney, satellite dishes and antennas are permitted development where they are not:

  • visible from the road,
  • located above the ridge of the roof,
  • located on a chimney.

For satellite dishes, a maximum of two are allowed but their size is limited – one no bigger than 1 metre and the other 600mm.

If your proposal exceeds these requirements planning permission is required and as with air conditioning units our main concern is their location and appearance. Where the house or building is listed and the above requirements are met, a listed building consent is required, but not planning permission.

Similarly, 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 will require planning permission.

Please seek our Pre-application advice  for further information.

Air Source Heat Pumps

In conservation areas, an air source heat pump does not require planning permission unless the ASHP is on a wall or roof fronting the highway, or in the curtilage and closer to the highway than the house.

Insulation

Insulation which also preserves the character or appearance a building in a conservation area is encouraged. Loft or internal wall insulation does not require planning permission here. External wall insulation may suit some buildings but may harm the appearance of others - for instance, of a house that is part of a terrace, and does require planning permission (see Extensions, Render & Cladding) in a conservation area.

For Information on energy efficiency updates please refer our website Making historic homes more energy efficient.

For further information please refer Historic England website. Alternatively, you could seek our Pre-application advice for any further information.

Advertisements

Certain advertisements and signs, for instance illuminated signs, will require advertisement consent. In general signage on a residential property should be limited to a naming plate or numbering.

New or altered signage on a listed building will always require Listed Building Consent and may also require Advertisement Consent. The appearance of a listed building can be harmed by inappropriate signage. However, carefully designed signage can enhance a building.

Visit Conservation Areas  or Listed Buildings  for additional information. Please seek our Pre-application advice  for further information on advertisements and consent.

Prune or remove trees from the property

  • Generally, you don’t need planning permission to prune or remove a tree unless it is located in a conservation area in which case you will need to give six weeks’ notice to the council about the proposed works to the tree.

This applies to trees with a trunk diameter of 75mm or more. Further information can be found on our trees page.

Some trees are protected and will require planning permission to prune or remove. These are known as Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) and you can find more from our urban design and conservation team. See more information about trees and TPOs.

Some trees may be required to be retained by a condition on an implemented planning permission at the property, including as part of an approved landscaping scheme. These would be detailed on applicable decision notices. Check the planning register for previous decisions. 

  • Generally, you don’t need planning permission to prune or remove a tree unless it is located in a conservation area in which case you will need to give six weeks’ notice to the council about the proposed works to the tree.

This applies to trees with a trunk diameter of 75mm or more. Further information can be found on our trees page.

Some trees are protected and will require planning permission to prune or remove. These are known as Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) and you can find more from our urban design and conservation team. See more information about trees and TPOs.

Some trees may be required to be retained by a condition on an implemented planning permission at the property, including as part of an approved landscaping scheme. These would be detailed on applicable decision notices. Check the planning register for previous decisions. 

Generally, you don’t need planning permission to prune or remove a tree unless it is in a conservation area.

Trees make an important contribution to the character and setting of a conservation area. It is for this reason that all trees in a conservation area have protected status.

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. Works include cutting down, topping, lopping, and uprooting.

During the six week notification period the tree will be assessed to ensure it should not be given a Tree Preservation Order Tree preservation order (TPO) that will give it extra protection.

If the tree has a Tree Preservation Order, an application is required to carry out any works Visit our trees page Trees in conservation areas. More information can be found on the Historic England website

Non-domestic extensions and alterations

In the case of non-residential development within a conservation area, you would need permission for:

  • Extensions in materials that would not have a similar appearance to that of the original building
  • Extensions or additional buildings above a certain size, or (in the case of a shop) within 2 metres of the boundary
  • Alterations to existing shops or offices
  • The erection of collection facilities or modifications to loading bays within the boundary of a shop
  • Developments at waste management facilities
  • Industrial building extensions need planning permission if the building is to be extended by more than 10% of its original size.

Please check Guidance on the Heritage Information to be Submitted with Applications

We recommend you visit our Listed Buildings page for more information on Listed buildings. You can also contact our Pre-application advice for any further guidance.

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