Designated Conservation Areas refer to specific locations or areas that are legally protected due to their special architectural or historic interest. These areas are designated and managed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 and subsequent regulations. The primary purpose of these designations is to preserve and enhance the character and appearance of the areas, ensuring that they remain assets for the community.
The key points regarding official designated conservation areas:
- Designation Process: Conservation areas are designated by the local planning authorities, such as city councils or district councils. The process typically involves a thorough assessment of the area’s architectural and historic significance. Public consultation may also take place during the designation process to gather input from local residents and stakeholders.
- Criteria for Designation: An area can be designated as a conservation area if it is of special architectural or historic interest, and its preservation or enhancement is deemed desirable. This interest can arise from various factors, including the layout and character of the buildings, the historical significance of the area, or its contribution to local identity and sense of place.
- Legal Protections: Once an area is designated as a conservation area, it gains specific legal protections. Local planning authorities are required to consider the preservation and enhancement of the area’s character when making planning decisions within the conservation area. This is known as a “material consideration”.
- Conservation Area Consent: In addition to standard planning permissions, certain works that might affect the character of the conservation area also require “Conservation Area Consent.” This applies to alterations, demolitions, and sometimes even new constructions within the designated area. The consent ensures that any proposed changes are in harmony with the existing character and appearance of the conservation area. It includes all trees in the conservation area.
- Appraisal and Management Plans: Local planning authorities often develop conservation area appraisals and management plans. The appraisal documents assess the special interest of the area, while management plans outline the strategies and policies for preserving and enhancing the conservation area’s unique character.
- Public Benefits: Conservation areas offer several benefits, such as preserving historical and architectural heritage, fostering a sense of local identity and continuity and improving the overall quality of the built environment.