Managing Change in Conservation Areas
Conservation Areas are rich in the physical evidence of the past, which contributes to our sense of well-being. They are living environments worth cherishing for their special qualities so careful management of change is essential to ensure their character and appearance is safeguarded and enhanced.
Section 69 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 requires the Local Planning Authority to give special attention to the desirability of preserving or enhancing Conservation Areas in their Local Development Plan policies and when determining planning applications within or adjacent to a Conservation Area. This statutory duty is reiterated within Chapter 6 of Planning Policy Wales and Technical Advice Note 24 ‘The Historic Environment’ where there is general presumption in favour of the preservation and enhancement of the character and appearance of an area. These documents also emphasis a strong presumption against the granting of planning permission for development, including advertisements, which would damage the character or appearance of an area to an unacceptable level. Greater care is therefore necessary in design and choosing materials to ensure that a scheme preserves or enhances an area’s special interest.
In order to protect the special character and appearance of a Conservation Area, stricter planning controls exist. These controls are in addition to normal planning controls and are not intended as a hindrance to change, but as positive management to safeguard the character of the area as a whole.
Planning Controls: Dwelling houses
You need to apply for planning permission from the Local Planning Authority if you intend to:
- Erect a two storey rear extension;
- Erect a single storey side extension that would extend more than 3 metres from the side elevation and would be within 1 metre of the principal elevation;
- Erect a two storey side extension;
- Erect a porch where the floor area would exceed 3 sqm, and/or the roof height would exceed 3 metres and/or the porch would come within 2 metres of the property boundary;
- Externally clad the property;
- Install External Wall Insulation;
- Alter, remove, install or replace a chimney stack;
- Extend the roof, including dormer windows;
- Install rooflights, unless they are located on the rear elevation and would not face a highway;
- Install solar/thermal panels on any wall that would be visible from the highway – solar/thermal panels on roofs are not restricted due to Conservation Area designation, however there is a condition which stipulates that they must be sited so as to minimise the harm on the visual amenities of the area, if the LPA does consider this to be the case then the works are not permitted development and planning permission would be required;
- Install a satellite dish;
- Erect any decking, raised platform, outbuildings, enclosures, pools which would be situated more than 20 metres from the dwelling house and would cover more than 10 square metres;
- Erect any decking, raised platform, outbuildings, enclosures, pools which would be situated between the side elevation of the dwelling house and the boundary of the property
Planning Controls: Article 4(2) Directions
Small-scale and piecemeal change can cause the greatest damage to the character and appearance of a Conservation Area. The replacement of traditional materials with inappropriate alternatives or the removal of original features may seem to have insignificant effect but cumulatively such changes gradually erode the special character of an area.
In certain Conservation Areas the Council has introduced an Article 4 (2) Direction. An Article 4 (2) Direction is a legal direction made under The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 and allows the Local Planning Authority to gain additional control over minor developments and alterations to dwelling houses by means of requiring the submission of a formal planning application. These minor developments and alterations would normally be permitted development, meaning that they could be carried out without the need for formal planning permission.
Article 4(2) Directions are in effect in the following Conservation Areas:
- Bangor on Dee
- Cefn Mawr
- Fairy Road
- Grosvenor Road (Gerald Street only)
- Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
- Rossett (selected properties only)
- Salisbury Park
If an Article 4(2) Direction is in place you will need to apply for planning permission if you intend to:
- Enlarge a dwelling house, including the erection of structures or laying of hard surfaces within the curtilages;
- Change the materials to external walls of a dwelling house, including external doors, windows, window frames, rainwater goods and other external items and painting of those items (other than re-painting in the same colour);
- Make any other alterations to the fenestration and external doors of a dwelling house;
- Make any other alterations to the roofs including chimneys of a dwelling houses (including provision of rooflights);
- Install a satellite antennae on a dwelling house or within its curtilage;
- Make alterations to, or for the demolition of, boundary walls or other means of enclosure.
It is important to note that an Article 4(2) Direction only controls alterations to the elevations of a dwelling house which front onto a highway, waterway or open space.
Planning Controls: Demolition
Conservation Area Consent is required from the Local Planning Authority for the demolition of any building or structure within a Conservation Area where it would affect the following:
- Total demolition of a building with a cubic content of 115m3 or more;
- Any gate, fence or other means of enclosure which is more than 1m high next to a highway, waterway or open space, or more than 2m anywhere else.
Applications for Conservation Area Consent will need to be accompanied by a Heritage Impact Statement which will need to include the following:
- Description of the proposed works, including a schedule of works;
- An explanation of what the intended outcome is and why demolition is desirable or necessary;
- A description of the contribution the building to be demolished makes to the character and appearance of the area;
- An assessment of the impact of the demolition of the building on the character and appearance of the area including any potential harm and any potential benefits;
- A summary of all options considered for the site and the reasons why demolition is the preferred approach.
Planning Controls: Commercial Buildings
Properties in commercial use do not have permitted development rights under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995. Therefore the only works that may be carried out without Planning Permission are works of repair and maintenance and internal alterations, provided the building is not a Listed Building.
Planning Controls: Advertisements
All external advertisements affect the appearance of the building to which they are attached as well as the wider area. Within Conservation Areas businesses are strongly encouraged to display advertisements that make a positive contribution to the appearance of the building and the area. To achieve this, the design and materials are of particular importance.
Within Conservation Areas display signs should be restricted to fascia level and fascia boards and lettering should be of a scale which respects the building as a whole and should not obscure traditional elevational features where they exist. Internally illuminated box fascias and projecting signs should be avoided.
In Conservation Areas Advertisement Consent must be obtained from the Local Planning Authority if:
- The sign/advertisement is intended to be illuminated (unless the illumination is intended to indicate that medical or similar services are available at the premises;
- The highest part of the sign or advertisement would be at more than 4.6 metres above ground level;
- The highest part of the sign/advertisement would be above the level of the bottom of the first floor window(s) of the wall to which the advert/sign is to be placed;
- The sign/advertisement would be advertising goods or services which are not available at the premises;
- The letters, figures or symbols on the sign/advertisement would be over 75cm in height;
- The sign/advertisement is to be located on an elevation of a shop premises which does not feature a shop window.
Planning Controls: New Buildings
New development within Conservation Areas may be acceptable in some instances, such as where they would replace a building of poor design, provided they are of a high quality and would enhance the character and appearance of an area. Pre-application advice with Planning Services is encouraged.