Conservation area FAQs

Find the answers to some of the commonly asked questions about conservation areas.

What is a conservation area?

A conservation area is an area that has been designated for its special and unique character, appearance and historic interest.

The legal background for designating a Conservation Area is set out in Section 69 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. This states that the Council shall from time to time designate conservation areas, which are defined as being 'areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to conserve or enhance'.

The Act also requires that councils undertake periodic reviews. The council has undertaken a programme of conservation areas appraisals in Uttlesford. 

How does being in a conservation area affect my property?

Being located within a conservation area can affect some of your permitted development rights, such as carrying out works to trees and installing satellite dishes on your property. These controls are intended to manage new development and ensure that the special characteristics of the conservation area are preserved for present and future generations to enjoy ad appreciate.

Conservation area consent is required for demolition of unlisted buildings or substantial part(s) of a building within conservation areas. It is not required for the construction or alterations of properties within conservation areas or for the following demolition proposals:

  • Demolition of a building with a volume not exceeding 115 cubic metres
  • Demolition of a wall less than 1 metre high fronting a highway, waterway or open space
  • Demolition of a wall less than 2 metres high in any other case
  • Demolition of agricultural buildings constructed since 1 January 1914

It is an offence in law to carry out unauthorised demolition of a building in a conservation area.

Please note: Some conservation areas benefit from additional controls under an Article 4 Direction (A4D), which removes a wider range of permitted development rights from certain properties within the boundary. A4Ds can currently be found in Great Chesterford, Newport, Stansted and Great Dunmow.

What about new development within a conservation area?

The design of buildings and extensions, located in or on the outskirts of conservation areas, needs to be of a particularly high standard, usually incorporating traditional materials and building forms that are in scale and harmony with nearby properties. The council will nearly always require the retention or replacement of traditional materials such as thatched roofs or flint walls in the conservation area.

What are conservation area appraisals?

A. Conservation area appraisals are documents which provide background information on the conservation area, including its historic development, the key characteristics of the area, the listed buildings that fall within the boundary and other important non-designated buildings that positively contribute to its special character and appearance. They are also usually accompanied by management plans which identify elements which detract from the conservation area and offer suggestions on how these could be addressed. The purpose of these documents is to understand and celebrate the key characteristics and positive elements that make these spaces unique and important, and to inform future development so that this special character is preserved. 

See all of our conservation area appraisals