The rules and regulations for homes in conservation areas
IT’S time to dispel some myths about conservation areas.
Yorkshire’s a beautiful place, we all know that, and many of us in the region are lucky enough to live in a conservation area. But do we really understand what that means and how it affects what we do when it comes to our homes?
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the purpose of designating somewhere a conservation area is to protect the wildlife and flora. But no. Conservation areas are towns, villages and other areas of population that have a special historical or architectural interest whose character is worth protecting.
According to the City of York Council: “Conservation area legislation only protects built up areas. One common and very understandable misconception is that conservation areas can protect areas of natural beauty, such as woodlands, riverbanks or meadows. Areas of natural beauty are only a consideration where they contribute to the setting of a village or town, for example, trees within gardens or streets.”
About five per cent of all the housing stock in the UK sits in a conservation area and, by virtue of their nature and surroundings, houses in conservation areas can carry a premium of as much as 20 per cent more than homes in surrounding areas. Good news for property prices.
However, an area designated as a conservation area also requires planning applications to be made for certain types of development which elsewhere wouldn’t even raise a planner’s eyebrow.
As a homeowner it’s therefore vital that you establish whether your property is in a conservation area and understand how that status affects what you’re allowed to do. The first bit is easy – just call your local council and they’ll be able to tell you.
The second is a bit more complicated. Rules vary from council to council but here’s a quick list of the types of work which you might be surprised to learn may need planning consent if you live in a conservation area:
Cladding any part of the exterior. This includes render, stone, artificial stone, timber cladding, plastic or tiles.
Demolition of a building. This can include partial demolition, such as removing most of the building but leaving the facade. “Buildings” encompasses outbuildings and barns.
Alterations to the roof. This includes the changing of the original structure, shape, pitch, cladding and ornament. Also includes roof windows such as Velux lights and dormers.
Extensions (1) Extending a house by more than 50 cubic metres or 10 per cent of the total volume of the original house subject to a maximum of 115 cubic metres. This includes conservatories.
Extensions (2) Extending a house nearer to any highway.
Replacement windows. The type and material of window will be subject to planning restrictions. In theory, uPVC is generally not allowed.
Sheds and greenhouses. Putting up a structure with a volume of more than 10m³ within the grounds. Includes summerhouses and swimming pools.
Satellite dishes. Installing a satellite dish, especially on a front wall, chimney or roof slope of a property.
Trees. If you propose to cut down, top or lop any tree in a conservation area (not just trees with Tree Preservation Orders.
Boundaries. To demolish any wall, gate, fence or other means of enclosure if it’s greater than 1m (3ft 3in) high where abutting a highway, or 2m (6ft 6in) high in any other case.
With this in mind, if you do live in a conservation area and don’t want to get on the wrong side of planning law, a quick call to your local council will soon establish what needs consent and what doesn’t.
It’s often said that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission but I’m not sure it’s a risk I’d be willing to take...
Sally Coulthard is a writer and author of property and interiors books including