Conservation Area Appraisal Masterclass: Jo Burton November 2011

Presentation from Jo Burton at Beacon Planning about Conservation Areas can be viewed below.

Lecture Notes:


Conservation Area Appraisals

Conservation Area Appraisal documents can take many forms, these are some examples from todays class

    • Understanding of what a conservation area is
    • Understanding of how they are designated and why
    • Understanding of their role within the planning process
    • Background theory
    • Case study:PeterboroughCity Centre Conservation Area
    • Walkabout: Long Causeway
  • Round-up

What is a conservation area?

First introduced in 1967  and now designated under Section 69 and 70 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 and requires that every local authority:

69 (1) “shall from time to time determine which parts of their area are areas of special architectural or historic interest the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance”.

69(2) “It shall be the duty of a local planning authority from time to time to review the past exercise of functions under this section”

71(1) “It shall be the duty of a local planning authority from time to time to formulate and publish proposals for the preservation and enhancement of any parts of their area which are conservation areas.”

Where are they designated?

8,000+ designated conservation areas in England


Any areas that have been identified to be of special architectural or historic interest.

Town and city centres

Rural villages and hamlets

Historic associations with a particular industry or event e.g. mining, fishing, philanthropist model villages

Homogenous in date and chronology e.g. C19 suburbs

Exceptional public realm or quality of open spaces

Individual heritage assets e.g. country estates

How can we appraise special character?


    •  current and past land use
    •  social and economic background
    •  aspect, geology and relief
  •  distribution, type and condition of designated and

non-designated heritage assets

  •  density, types and forms of buildings, gardens and

green spaces

  •  place names and earliest references

Documentary sources:

    •  OS and other maps
    •  trade directories
    •  aerial photographs
    •  historic environment record (HER) data
  •  historic characterisation studies


    •  site survey of area and its environs
    •  wider area e.g. viewpoints
  •  publicly accessible places

What does it mean?

–           Planning authorities, when deciding whether to grant planning permission within Conservation Areas, are required by law to pay special attention to the need to preserve or enhance

–           Local planning authorities should take into account the desirability of sustaining and enhancing the significance of heritage assets – HE7.4 PPS5

–          There should be a presumption in favour of the conservation of designated heritage assets – HE9.1 PPS5


Core Strategy DPD: Adopted 23 February 2011

Policy CS17

The Historic Environment

The Council will protect, conserve and enhance the historic environment throughout Peterborough, through the special protection afforded to listed buildings, conservation areas and scheduled ancient monuments and through careful control of development that might adversely affect non-scheduled, nationally important archaeological remains; other areas of archaeological potential or importance; historic features and their settings; buildings of local importance; and areas of historic landscape or parkland (including, but not limited to, those on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest).

Surveyors Long Causeway

Groups of attendees try out conservation appraisal skills on Long Causeway

All new development must respect and enhance the local character and distinctiveness of the area in which it would be situated, particularly in areas of high heritage value. There will be particular emphasis on the following:

  •  the use of Conservation Area Appraisals and associated Management Plans to ensure the preservation and enhancement of the individual character of each of Peterborough’s conservation areas

Demolition:  Demolition within a Conservation Area, other than demolition for which there is statutory exemption, must be granted prior Conservation Area Consent by the relevant Local Planning Authority.  Demolition without consent is a criminal offence. There will be a presumption in favour of retaining buildings those buildings considered to make a positive contribution to the character or appearance of such areas. 

Scrutiny:  Planning applications will be judged in part on their impact on the character and appearance of the conservation area and/or its settings, with a requirement to preserve or enhance the special architectural or historic interest. This will most often necessitate high quality design and materials. English Heritage is invited to comment on development proposals that are considered to affect the character or appearance of a conservation area, or where a material change of use is proposed – in both instances where the application site is over 1,000 square metres.

Trees:  Anyone intending to cut down, top or lop a tree in a Conservation Area, regardless of whether or not it is covered by a tree preservation order, must give notice to the LPA.  The LPA then has 6 weeks to consider the contribution the tree makes to the character of the area and if necessary make a Tree Preservation Order to protect it.

Permitted development rights:  The rights that owners have to do works to their properties without planning permission are reduced, and can be further restricted through the use of an Article 4 Direction.  This includes applying certain types of cladding, inserting dormer windows, and erecting satellite dishes which are visible from the street. 

Article 4(2) Direction:  LPAs may choose to place further restrictions on other alterations that would be harmful to the special character of the conservation area, such as painting a building a different colour, replacing distinctive front doors and windows, or other architectural features.  The LPA must be able to justify these restrictions, and must undertake public consultation.

Planning policy: LPAs should have local plan policies in place to guide development within conservation areas.  The conservation area appraisal and management plans can be adopted as supplementary planning guidance to strengthen their postiive management. 

Special architectural interest

    • Statutory listed buildings
    • Buildings of local interest
    • Buildings of townscape merit
    • Architectural groupings
    • Palette of materials
    • Scale and massing
    • Unique characteristics
    • Local distinctiveness
    • Landmarks
    • Views and vistas
    • Public realm
  • Trees

Management Plan

“sets out the way in which development pressure and neglect will be managed to ensure conservation areas retain the qualities which led to their designation.”

    •     Local Plan Policies
    •     Guidance
    •     Regeneration Strategy
    •     Enhancement Schemes
    •     Street and Traffic Management
    •     Trees, Open Space and Green Infrastructure Strategy
    •     Enforcement and Remediation Strategy
  •     Restriction on PD rights through Article 4 directions


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