A Conservation Area is defined as an area of special architectural or historic interest, with a character or appearance that is desirable to preserve or enhance.
Historic areas are recognised for the contribution they make to our cultural inheritance, economic well-being and quality of life.
Public support for the conservation and enhancement of areas of architectural and historic interest is well established. By suggesting continuity and stability, these areas provide points of reference in a rapidly changing world: they represent the familiar and cherished local scene.
Over 9000 Conservation Areas have been designated nationally since they were introduced in 1967 and there are over 80 in South Somerset.
To see Conservation Areas near you, or to find out if your home is part of a conversation area, visit Your Area.
What is a Conservation Area?
Section 69 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 Act gives us the duty to identify appropriate parts of South Somerset and designate them as conservation areas.
The designation is done by our planning team and is how we apply conservation policies to a particular area.
The character of a Conservation Area is made up of a combination of many things, including the buildings, their interrelationship and the spaces they create, their variety of styles and details, street patterns, open spaces, walls and trees, vistas and monuments. As well as smaller details such as paving, walls, signs and railings, which all go towards making a place unique and distinctive.
Conservation Areas are important parts of our regional cultural heritage and are valuable assets in terms of the local economy and tourism.
Old buildings and historic places enrich our quality of life and help preserve a sense of continuity in a changing world.
Selecting a Conservation Area
It is the quality and interest of areas, rather than individual buildings, that is taken into consideration when identifying conservation areas.
Our experience of a historic area depends on much more than the quality of individual buildings; it is the historic layout of property boundaries and thoroughfares, a particular 'mix' of uses, characteristic materials, appropriate scaling and detailing of contemporary buildings, the quality of advertisements, shop fronts, street furniture and hard and soft surfaces, vistas along streets and between buildings and the extent to which traffic intrudes and limits pedestrian use of spaces between buildings.
Conservation area designation allows us to recognise the importance of all these factors and ensures that our conservation policy addresses the quality of townscape in its broadest sense, as well as the protection of individual buildings.
Designation of a Conservation Area
Once a survey has been carried out to determine if an area is sufficient, we have to define its special architectural or historic character.
Usually, a Conservation Area Appraisal needs to be created in preparation for the proposal to designate a new or revised area.
A schedule of properties affected, supported by a carefully prepared map to indicate the boundary, is also necessary as the conservation area will become a local land charge.
The decision to designate is made by a Council Area Committee. There is no statutory requirement for consultation but, generally, those affected will be consulted before a decision is made.
We consider this to be good practice as there is no right of appeal against the decision and the effectiveness of designation relies partly on community support.
The designation takes affect from the date of the decision and must be formally advertised in local press and in the London Gazette.
Implications of Designation
Under Section 72 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) 1990 Act, we have a duty to ensure the preservation and enhancement of conservation areas and to prepare proposals to that end.
The provisions for ensuring the repair or upkeep of listed buildings can be applied to unlisted buildings within a conservation area, providing the preservation of the building is important to maintaining the character or appearance of the area (Sections 48 to 54 of the 1990 Act).
The designation of a conservation area does not prevent change from occurring altogether. Instead, it manages change in order to enhance conservation areas and makes sure that new development makes a positive contribution to the existing character.
Extra publicity is given to planning applications affecting a conservation area. The desirability of preserving or enhancing the character of the area must be taken into account, in accordance with our local planning policies.
To manage changes, normal permitted development rights (works that can be carried out without planning permission) are restricted.
The following is a summary of development associated with dwelling houses that will require planning permission in a Conservation Area:
- All extensions to the side elevation of a dwelling house.
- Two-storey extensions and single storey extensions longer than 4m to the rear of a dwelling house.
- All enlargements to the roof of a dwelling house, including the addition of dormer windows.
- Cladding of any part of the exterior of a dwelling house with stone, artificial stone, pebbledash, render, timber, plastic or tiles
- The erection of any outbuildings situated to the side of a dwelling house.
- The installation, alteration or replacement of a chimney, flue or soil and vent pipe on the principal or side elevation wall or roof slope of a dwelling house, where that elevation fronts a highway.
- The installation of a satellite dish on a chimney, wall or roof slope, which faces onto, and is visible from a highway or anywhere on a building more than 15m high.
- The installation of solar panels on a wall which fronts a highway.
- The installation of stand-alone solar panels nearer to the highway than any part of the dwelling or block of flats.
- Special controls over the location of air source heat pump units, wind turbines, biomass heating flues etc.
This summary is a guide; the regulations are complex and so we recommend that you seek advise from our Planning Officers.
Conservation Area designation also gives protection to trees. We require a notice before any works are carried out to any tree that is over 75mm in diameter.
Visit the Planning Portal for more information and advice.
Demolition and Article 4 Direction
Planning permission is required for the demolition of any unlisted building within the designated area, providing the building is over 115m3. It is also needed to demolish a gate, fence, wall or railing over 1m high next to a highway (including a public footpath or bridleway) or public open space; or over 2m high elsewhere.
The normal permitted development rights can be restricted further by an Article 4 Direction. This can be applied to all or part of a Conservation Area and serves to manage small scale change that can gradually erode the character of a conservation area, such as alterations to windows or the creation of car parking space at the front of a property. If an Article 4 Direction is applied, planning permission would be required for specified developments and each case would be determined on its own merits.
Conservation Areas in South Somerset with Article 4 Directions in force:
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