Planning considerations for conservation areas
Conservation Areas are "areas of special architectural or historic interest which it is desirable to preserve or enhance".
The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 states that local planning authorities should determine which parts of their area are worthy of protection and publish proposals for their preservation and enhancement.
Conservation areas in Welwyn Hatfield
- Welwyn Garden City town centre and residential areas to the west
- Beehive area of Welwyn Garden City
- Ayot Green historic core
- Ayot St. Lawrence historic core
- Welwyn village historic core
- Essendon historic core
- Old Hatfield historic core
- Northaw historic core
- Peartree Conservation Area
Planning policies are in place in these areas to preserve and enhance its character and to resist poor quality development proposals that would harm its character.
New developments in conservation areas
All new developments proposed in conservation areas should be:
- of a very high quality
- sympathetic to its special architectural and historic qualities, including scale, design, materials and space between buildings.
You may need to submit additional information to planning applications to show how the proposal relates to the conservation area and a design statement may be required for larger proposals for new dwellings or more than 100 square metres of new floorspace.
Changes to existing properties
Control of development is much stricter in Conservation Areas. Permitted Development rights (which automatically give you permission to undertake certain works) are reduced in Conservation Areas, meaning you need to make applications for certain forms of development which would not be needed outside Conservation Areas.
For example, within a Conservation Area you will need permission to make changes to buildings such raising the ridge of the roof, installation of dormer windows, installing cladding, construction of extensions and use of other materials. Use of buildings and change of use is also more tightly controlled, for example there are smaller limits for increases in floor space of commercial units and changes of commercial use.
Please note the above provides examples only. When considering applications for planning permission in Conservation Areas the Council has a duty to consider the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character and appearance of that area. For example, original doors and windows should be repaired wherever possible or replaced with ones that match the originals as closely as possible. Permitted Development Rights also change frequently as a result of amendments General Permitted Development Order. We would therefore encourage applicants to submit a pre-application request to seek advice from the council prior to making any application for planning permission.
Demolition Works Within Conservation Areas
Conservation Area status introduces controls over the demolition of structures. Within Conservation Areas full planning permission is required for demolition of any structure with the exemption of:
- Buildings of less than 50 cubic metres;
- Buildings of less than 115 cubic metres measured externally (which are exempt under Permitted Development rights so please check if an Article 4 Direction is in place to remove such PD rights);
- Walls, gates or fences or other means of enclosure less than 1m high which abut a highway, waterway or open space, or 2m high in any other case (although prior approval may be required);
- Any building erected prior to 1914 and in use or last used for agriculture or forestry.
The difference between works of alteration, which may also require planning permission, and works of demolition is complex and should be decided on a case-by-case basis. In addition to this, if you want to demolish a building over 50 cubic metres, either within or outside of a conservation area, you need to apply to the council for a determination as to whether prior approval will be required.
Listed buildings require a different from of consent for demolition – you will need to apply for listed building consent to undertake any works.
Demolishing an unlisted building within a conservation area without the required permission in place is a criminal offence, therefore we would strongly advise you contact the council prior to any works being undertaken.
Works to trees within Conservation Areas
Trees within conservation areas are given special protection. Anyone wishing to undertake works to trees within a Conservation Area must notify the council 6 weeks before carrying out certain works, otherwise penalties may be incurred. The work may go ahead before the end of the 6 week period if the local planning authority gives consent. This notice period gives the authority an opportunity to consider whether to make an Tree Preservation Order on the tree. There are some exemptions to this requirement, and applicants are advised to contact the council if they are in any doubts about procedural requirements.
We consider breaches of planning control as a higher priority in conservation areas and are likely to take enforcement action.
For more information about conservation areas visit the Historic England website.