A Guide to Conservation Areas

A Guide to Conservation Areas

A Conservation Area is a designated area of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which is desirable to preserve or enhance.

Under Section 69 of the 1990 Planning Act (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) there are more than 10,000 Conservation Areas in the UK.

Conservation Areas are typically historic cities and towns, country estates, parks and gardens, canals, villages, towns, and suburbs.

The Planning Act protects a neighbourhood’s unique character including its architecture, buildings, layout, trees, and even street furniture.


The Conservation Area is designated by the local planning authority who make legal restrictions and enforce policies on what changes can be made to buildings and greenery in order to maintain the area’s distinct character.

The rules governing each conservation area will vary from area to area depending on the specific rules set by that particular area’s local authority.

Your local authority may impose restrictions on any number of features in your area from street lighting to windows to the colour of your front door.


A Conservation Area is most likely to affect you if you are planning to alter the outside of your building or any trees around your property.

Due to restrictions, any improvements, alterations, extensions, and even repairs will take more time, be more expensive, and require more paperwork than a property requiring planning permission outside a conservation area.

However, homes in conservation areas tend to maintain their value and properties are more expensive because the neighbourhood’s special character is maintained, making them highly sought after areas in which to live.


It is more difficult to obtain planning permission for properties in Conservation Areas and you are more restricted on the work you can carry out, with tighter controls on planning permission. 

When determining whether to grant planning permission, your local authority will refer to local plan policies and conservation rules that govern the area to ensure that any changes made are kept in character with the area.

For this reason, you will not be able to substantially alter a property’s appearance and many minor changes are also disallowed with even small repairs having limitations.


The restrictions that local authorities place on properties in a Conservation Area are known as Article 4 Directions.

These directions limit the changes and improvements homeowners would usually be allowed to make to a property under normal Permitted Development outside a Conservation Area.

These are things that you normally would not require planning permission for, such as replacing a door or window. In a Conservation Area, these rules are more strict and limited.


Contact your local planning authority and look on their website to find out if you live in a Conservation Area and what specific restrictions apply in the area in which you are located, as restrictions will differ in each area and are tailored by the council in each neighbourhood.


You will require planning permission and need to make a planning application for the following changes if you live in a Conservation Area which may be considered Permitted Development and would not require planning permission outside the Conservation Area.

You cannot, without permission, demolish:

  • A building more than 115 cubic metres in volume
  • A boundary such as a gate, wall, railing, or fence over 1m if it borders a road or is higher than 2m if it does not border a road
  • Trees are protected and permission is required to cut them down


You need permission to make the following alterations in all Conservation Areas:

  • A single-storey extension that is more than 3m beyond the back wall of a house and 4m if the house is detached
  • Extensions over 1 storey high
  • Side extensions
  • Two-storey extensions
  • Roof extensions or alterations
  • New construction of sheds and outbuildings
  • Installation of chimneys, flues, or vents at the front of the house or the side if it faces the road
  • Installing satellite dishes that face the road
  • Fitting solar panels to the front of the roof facing the street more than 150mm from the roof slope
  • Fitting solar panels that protrude by more than 150mm from the roof
  • Cladding in any material including stone, pebble dash, render, timber, plastic, and tile
  • If you want to cut down, top, or trim any but the smallest of trees, you must notify your local planning authority at least 6 weeks before work begins. Your authority will consider the contribution the tree makes to the character of the area and may create a Tree Preservation Order to protect it.


Your local authority may have specific rules for the Conservation Area you live in. For example, you may not be able to:

  • Replace original windows or doors
  • Paint the facade or change the colour of window frames and doors
  • Alter guttering or pipes


Get in touch with Allcott Associates today for further advice on Conservation Areas and how this may affect your property.

Our Chartered Surveyors can inform on what you need to take into consideration when making changes to your property in a Conservation Area.


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