Conservation Areas enjoy special protection under legislation and both national and local, policy and guidance. In determining planning applications, the local authority must consider how the proposed development within a Conservation Area ‘preserves or enhances’ the character or appearance of the area.
Amongst the early designations were also important developments of the early 20th Century: Welwyn Garden City (Hertfordshire); Hampstead Garden Suburb (London Borough of Barnet); and Chester, which was selected by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government for a special study on the implications of a conservation policy for the historic centre. This had the broad objective of preserving and, where possible, promoting or enhancing the architectural and historic character of the area in order to maintain its life and economic buoyancy.
Extra controls are placed on development within a Conservation Area. Planning Permission is needed to demolish a building in a Conservation Area, and there is a planning presumption in favour of the retention of buildings which make a positive contribution to a Conservation Area. Certain types of more minor development, are subject to Permitted Development rights (under the General Permitted Development Order, 2015, as amended). Permitted Development rights are, however, more limited in Conservation Areas, and may be removed partially or completely using Article 4 Directions. Trees above a specific size are protected in Conservation Areas.
Applicants must give a council a notice period (usually six weeks’ notice) in writing before any work is carried out to lop, top or fell a tree in a Conservation Area. There is also greater control over advertisements in Conservation Areas.