Local authorities have the responsibility to designate conservation areas, defined as 'an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character and appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance' Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.
If you live, work on or own property in a conservation area, certain responsibilities are placed on both you and the district council to preserve or enhance that special character and appearance:
Conservation areas normally contain a large number of listed buildings. These are either individual buildings or building groups that are of special architectural or historic interest. If you own or live near to a listed building, you should be aware that these are subject to their own special legal protection.
The District of Stratford-on-Avon currently contains 75 designated conservation areas, all of which have been reviewed since 1990. Twenty-one of these review documents have been published as booklets and a further 29 as broadsheets (a free interim document in leaflet form summarising the findings of the review).
My property isn't listed - do special planning controls affect me?
Before you start any work on your property, it is advisable to see if you need any type of permission, as extra planning controls apply in conservation areas. A useful source of advice is the Planning Portal interactive house.
You may need planning permission and building regulations approval for some alterations and extensions and also conservation area consent if you want to carry out demolition work.
Other examples that may require permission are cladding exterior walls with stone, timber, plastic etc., erecting satellite dishes on walls, roofs or chimneys fronting the highway, and undertaking roof alterations (including dormer windows).
It is often the details on a building, particularly its windows, which give it its character. Although you do not need planning permission to replace windows or doors on an unlisted building in a conservation area, you should make sure that your alterations are in keeping with the character of the building and the area. Unsympathetic changes may spoil the appearance of the historic scene and devalue your property.
Works, usually excavation works, in certain conservation areas may also have archaeological implications. Planning Archaeology at Warwickshire County Council will be able to tell you whether scheduled monument consent is required.
I want to demolish my unlisted property (or part of it) - do I need any special permission?
The character of a conservation area is often defined by buildings, both listed and unlisted, that together form an important group. For this reason conservation area consent is required in many cases should you want to demolish all or a significant part of any building within the conservation area. This can include the demolition of outbuildings, walls, fences, railing or gates and, in some circumstances, the demolition of part of a building.
For advice on specific cases or if you wish to undertake partial demolition, you should confirm whether conservation area consent is required by submitting an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness.
How do I ensure that my new development proposals enhance the conservation area?
Conservation area status allows for change as well as preservation. Modern buildings are not necessarily out of place in conservation areas, but they must be well designed, sympathetic to their surroundings, use appropriate materials and incorporate sympathetic hard and soft landscape treatments.
It is the district council's responsibility to pay special attention to the character and appearance of the conservation area when considering planning applications for new development. Fully detailed plans should be submitted. New development must respect its historic context in volume, height, scale, form and quality and submitted drawings must demonstrate that it will. Street elevations and perspective drawings showing the context are particularly helpful. Texture, colour and materials should also be carefully considered.
The Stratford-on-Avon District Design Guide is a valuable reference tool for this purpose.
My property is listed - how do conservation area controls affect me?
Conservation area designation does not convey any additional controls. listed buildings have their own strict legal safeguards. Any changes to the fabric of a listed building (both outside and inside) require special permission known as listed building consent.
Please see our page on listed buildings for further guidance.
You may also require planning permission in conjunction with listed building consent for demolition or an extension to the property.
Please note that it is a criminal offence to undertake unauthorised works to a listed structure.
I need to advertise my business - what signs can I display?
Conservation areas sometimes cover commercial areas of particular architectural quality and historic interest at the heart of a town or village. All commercial traders need to advertise their business, but signs need to fit the design of the shop front or building as a whole. Design, size, position, quality of materials and illumination should contribute to, rather than detract from, the street scene. Internally illuminated box signs and plastic blinds will nearly always be unsuitable. Many advertisements in conservation areas will require advertising consent to be displayed.
Further guidance is to be found in the Stratford-on-Avon District Design Guide.
What about trees and hedges - do special controls apply?
Trees in conservation areas have special protection because of the contribution they make to the character and setting of the area. Tree surgery work on any species of tree, including fruit trees, from simple pruning to crown reduction, thinning or felling, should not proceed unless you have given six weeks' prior notice using the correct notification form. The Planning Portal provides further guidance.
Permission may also be required to remove a hedge or significantly reduce its height, if it has not been regularly maintained.
Trees in conservation areas already protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) are subject to the normal TPO controls.
Please note that you do not normally need permission to cut down or do work to trees that are less than 75mm in diameter (measured 1.5m above ground). Shrub species are also exempt.