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Buying in a Conservation Area?

Buying in a Conservation Area?

By Joanne Oldfield, Conveyancing Solicitor

There are nearly 10,000 conservation areas in England and they are designated for their special architectural and historic interest or because their appearance is desirable to preserve or enhance.  They range from fishing and mining villages to centres of historic interest and they are usually designated by the Local Planning Authority.

How do I know whether the property I am purchasing is within a Conservation Area?

When you are purchasing a property we will carry out a Local Authority search on your behalf as part of the process.  This will reveal whether the property is located within a Conservation Area.

What does this mean for you?

Properties within a Conservation Area are subject to tighter planning controls than those outside such an area.

What are Article 4 Directions?

These are issued by the local Planning Authority where specific control over development is required, usually to preserve the character of any area of importance.  Each Article 4 Direction may differ in content, therefore you will need to check the wording of the relevant direction for your area.

Certain works that are carried out to properties do not require full planning permission from the Local Planning Authority and these are called “permitted developments”.  These rights provide effectively an implied planning consent to carry out certain types of development including certain sized extensions, change of use etc.  For the most up to date information you should consult the Planning Portal, a Planning Surveyor or the Local Planning Officer.

Works which are usually considered permitted developments (in areas that are not classed as Conservation Areas) may be harmful to the character and appearance of the conservation area.  For example adding UPVC modern windows and doors, or satellite dishes to the front of a traditional building can results in the loss of character to an area. In these cases the Council may consider making an Article 4 Direction to restrict “permitted development rights”.  Once we have received the results of your Local Authority search this will confirm whether the property is subject to an Article 4 direction and we will then be able to provide further advice to you on the implications of this.

Essentially the Article 4 direction can withdraw the permitted developments rights discussed above and a planning application would need to be before the work was carried out.   This does not mean that simply because the property is subject to the direction that the work cannot be carried out but rather that a planning application would need to be submitted and approved prior to commencing the work.  The impact of the proposals on the special architectural and historic character of the area will then be considered before the planning consent is granted.

Furthermore, if you want to cut down a tree or do any pruning work you must notify the Council 6 weeks in advance.  The purpose of this is to give the Council time to assess the contribution that the tree makes to the character of the conservation area and decide whether to make a Tree Preservation Order.

We can provide you with more information on Conservations Areas, permitted development rights or Article 4 directions as part of the Conveyancing process. Call our team for a quote on 0800 160 10 10.

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