What is a conservation area?

Local authorities have the power (under Section 69 of the Planning [Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas] Act 1990) to designate as conservation areas any locality of special architectural or historic interest. This means the planning authority has extra powers to control works and demolition of buildings to protect or improve the character or appearance of the area.

Conservation area

These restrictions include permitted development rights. Some prior approval elements still exist in conservation areas. See here.  Notice of works on a tree in a Conservation Area must be given six weeks in advance.This legal requirement applies to all trees with a stem diameter of at least 75mm, measured at 1.5m above the ground. See more under TPO.


How are conservation areas chosen for designation?


Conservation areas are usually chosen as places of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which should be preserved or enhanced.

The special character of these areas is not just made up of buildings; it is also defined by other features which contribute to particular views and the familiar local scene:

  • the way roads, paths and boundaries are laid out
  • characteristic building and paving materials
  • the way buildings are used
  • public and private spaces, such as gardens, parks and greens
  • trees and street furniture

Conservation areas give protection across a broader area of land than listing individual buildings and all features within the area, listed or otherwise, may be recognised as part of its character.

Conservation area consent does not apply to listed buildings or the demolition of an ecclesiastical building in ecclesiastical use, for example a church; the demolition of a scheduled monument; and the demolition of any building in other certain categories.

The demolition of an unlisted building in a conservation area, without the consent of the local planning authority is a criminal offence.


Is my property in a Conservation Area?


You will need to contact your local authority to establish this. Some will have online maps to enable you to look up the conservation area. Others simply have a list of areas or parishes.

Permitted development in Conservation Areas? 


Some changes of use are allowed in conservation areas. Check this page for all permitted development rights in conservation areas.




Page Updated: 12th March 2023