Conservation Areas can be defined as areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance.
The borough is fortunate in having many fine buildings and areas which are distinguished by their architecture, landscape and history. These create an attractive environment that often is the product of several different eras. These areas are important examples of our social, cultural and aesthetic history and must be safeguarded from indiscriminate or ill-considered change. These areas often contain listed buildings. However, it is not always enough to protect these buildings in isolation. Their surroundings and general environment are often of equal importance and Conservation Areas are intended to protect that environment.
There are currently 8 conservation areas in the borough. These are
To find out whether you live in a Conservation Area please view the Interactive Map.
Living in a conservation area
The designation of a conservation area indicates the council's positive commitment to these special areas and its intention to preserve and enhance the quality of the environment. However, conservation areas are not open-air museums but living communities which must be allowed to change over time in order to remain vital and prosperous. Consequently the emphasis is to guide and control development rather than to prevent it. It is important though that all new development should be sympathetic to the special architectural and aesthetic qualities of the area, particularly in terms of scale, design, materials and space between buildings.
The council has statutory powers to control changes within Conservation Areas and these include:
New development within the curtilage of a dwelling house is more strictly controlled for properties in a Conservation Area in regards to 'permitted development rights'. Further information can be accessed on the link to the right. New development includes small scale changes to homes such as the placement of a satellite dish. Please note that even if planning permission is not required Estate Management Consent is required for many residential properties in Welwyn Garden City.
For new development where planning permission is required, the Council has the power to require a very high standard of design which is sympathetic to the existing environment. New development must make a positive contribution to the character of the area. In view of this the Council can require additional information in support of any planning application showing how the proposal will relate to the Conservation Area. This can mean the submission of elevations of adjacent buildings and examples of materials and colours in addition to information normally required to be submitted for development, such as elevations and floor plans. Usually only a fully detailed planning application will be considered, which should be accompanied by a design statement.
Demolition of buildings
Conservation Area Consent is required for the demolition in whole or part of most buildings and structures, including walls and outhouses. If demolition is being considered then advice should be sought from the council. Plus, consent may also be required under the Building Regulations and Welwyn Garden City Estate Management Scheme.
If you wish to fell, lop or top or uproot trees within a conservation area, you must give the council set notice in writing. It is an offence to carry out the work within that period without the consent of the council.
Repairs within a conservation area
The success of conservation areas depend upon the care which individual owners take with the maintenance and repair of their properties and in any alterations or extensions they make. For example original windows and doors should be repaired where possible, or replaced with new ones to match the originals in terms of materials used and details of their design. Even small changes can detract from the special character of an area and the value of properties.
This page was last updated on 09/11/2012