Conservation areas

  

There are 145 Conservation Areas in Cornwall covering 4070 hectares of land and you can access lists of these areas by selecting the relevant link from the menu. Guidance is also available in the form of printed leaflets which are available from Council offices and there are also a number of frequently asked questions below.

Continue reading

Local Authorities are encouraged to produce Conservation Area Appraisals and Management Plans for each of their Conservation Areas and gradually these documents will be produced for all Conservation Areas. View the Conservation Area Character Appraisals and Management Plans page to see

A Conservation Area is an area of special architectural or historic interest with a character or appearance that is desirable to preserve or enhance. There are no standard specifications for Conservation Areas; they may include the historic parts of a town or village, have an important industrial past or, for example, cover an historic park. Invariably such areas will have a concentration of historic buildings, many of which may be listed. However, it is the quality and interest of the area which will be significant. This may include spaces around buildings, views and vistas, historic street patterns, gardens (public and private), trees and field systems.

To find out if you live in a conservation area please use the online mapping system, or contact the general planning team for clarification.

Conservation areas are designated by the Council, although the Secretary of State also has this power in exceptional circumstances.  From time to time, the boundaries are reassessed and amended – usually because a conservation area character appraisal has been undertaken.

New designations, amendments and the adoption of appraisals and management plans are all subject to public consultation and committee approval.

There are specific local policies relating to conservation areas in the relevant area development plans which you can find out more about by contacting the general planning team.

National guidance on legislation, policy and good practice is provided by Planning Policy Statement 5 – Planning for the Historic Environment 2010 which is supported by a Practice Guide.

The Council has prepared Conservation Area Character Appraisals and/or Management Plans for some of its conservation areas and is working towards producing these for all of them. These documents provide a detailed account of an area’s special architectural or historic interest, illustrating its character and help guide decisions on alterations, new developments and opportunities for enhancements.

Designating conservation areas is part of the council's commitment to preserving and enhancing the quality of Cornwall’s environment.  Conservation areas are not open-air museums but living communities, so the emphasis is on the positive management of change over time in order to keep these communities prosperous and meet the every-day needs of the people that live and work there.

It is important however that that those details and elements that create the special interest of the Area in the first place should not be lost, and that all new development should be sympathetic to the special qualities of the area, particularly in terms of scale, design, materials and space between buildings.

The council has prepared Conservation Area Character Appraisals and/or Management Plans for some of its conservation areas and is working towards producing these for all of them. These documents provide a detailed account of an area’s special architectural or historic interest illustrating its character and help guide decisions on alterations, new developments and opportunities for enhancements.

For further information please contact the general planning team.

There are various categories of work (known as permitted development) that are allowed on dwelling houses without the need to apply for planning permission: these are more restricted in Conservation Areas in order to protect their special character. These restrictions affect the size of extensions, and the provision of such things as conservatories, verandas, balconies, raised platforms, outbuildings and swimming pools. You may also need permission before making alterations such as cladding, replacement chimneys, inserting windows, installing satellite dishes and solar panels, laying paving or building walls.

This list is by no means exhaustive and, as the Council can change the types of alterations that need permission by making Article 4 Directions, it is always recommended that you check with the general planning team before making arrangements to start any work.

By submitting the Do I need planning consent or building regulations form you will be requesting a check as to the need for planning permission, listed building or conservation area consent and/or Building Regulations. With regard to planning, this will constitute an informal response as a definitive response can only be obtained through the submission of a Certificate of Lawfulness of Proposed Use or Development.

There is a charge for the planning, listed building or conservation area consent check, but the Building Regulation check is free and you should receive your response within 10 working days.

The form and further information on what should be submitted is available via the link above and at the main planning offices.

Certain changes to unlisted houses in conservation areas may be regarded as permitted development, not normally needing planning permission. However, a small number of changes, such as the replacement of original roof materials with unsympathetic modern materials, substitution of traditional windows and doors with PVCu or aluminium and the removal of front boundary walls to provide off street parking, can cumulatively detract from the special character of an area.  Therefore some Conservation Areas have Article 4(2) directions which change the type of alterations that need planning permission, in order to provide greater protection to the qualities and characteristics, which make the area special. 

Please contact the general planning team to clarify whether such a direction affects your property, particularly before making arrangements to starting any work

Commercial buildings and buildings in multi-occupation have only very limited permitted development rights and planning permission will be required for any material alterations to such a building. For example, the following would normally require planning permission:

  • Removal of architectural features
  • Replacement of a shop front
  • Replacement of windows or doors unless in an identical material, design and finish
  • Provision of fire escapes
  • Addition of solar panels, rooflights or dormer
  • Erection of an extension
  • Addition of plant/machinery, ventilation and extraction equipment.

This is by no means a comprehensive list and is included for guidance purposes only. Please check with the general planning team if you are unsure if certain works require planning permission.

Stricter rules apply in Conservation Areas with regard to the type and size of advertisements that can be erected without advertisement consent. Please check with the general planning team if you are unsure if certain adverts require advertisement consent.

Conservation Area Consent is different from Planning Permission; it will be needed for almost any works for the demolition of all, or almost all of any building within a Conservation Area. Conservation Area Consent is also required for substantial demolition of boundary walls, fences or gates if they are more than one metre high fronting onto a highway, public right of way or open space or two metres elsewhere. In assessing such an application the Council is statutorily obliged to pay special attention to desirability of preserving or enhancing the special character or appearance of the area. This means considering the contribution made by the building or structure to the architectural or historic interest of the area and the wider effects that the demolition will have on that character.  Where the building makes a positive contribution to the conservation area, there is a general presumption in favour of retaining it, and if you wish to argue that it is structurally or financially impracticable to retain the building your application should be supported by a full structural engineers survey and appraisal of the building indicating necessary works and costings for both repair and redevelopment. Any demolition and/or rebuilding of boundary walls and other means of enclosure should indicate proposals for replacements and information on landscaping and surfacing. Even If the building in question makes little or no contribution to the interest of the area, the granting of consent will be dependent on there being acceptable plans for redevelopment.  It is an offence to carry out unauthorised demolition where Conservation Area Consent is required. Please contact the general planning team to clarify whether you need consent for any works or visit the Do I need planning consent or building regulations webpage.

By submitting the Do I need planning consent or building regulations form you will be requesting a check as to the need for planning permission, listed building or conservation area consent and/or Building Regulations. With regard to planning, this will constitute an informal response as a definitive response can only be obtained through the submission of a Certificate of Lawfulness of Proposed Use or Development.

There is a charge of £47.00 inc VAT for the planning, listed building or conservation area consent check, but the Building Regulation check is free and you should receive your response within 10 working days.

The form and further information on what should be submitted is available via the link above and at the main planning offices.

Application forms can be downloaded from the Council’s Submit an Application web page.  Although the form provides detailed guidelines about what information is required it is often advisable to consult the general planning team for some informal advice before you submit your application, as this often saves time and confusion, and they can also supply application forms.

The information on these pages only provides a brief summary of the issues involved with conservation area legislation and its implications. It is not a comprehensive statement of the law. Development Management and Conservation staff will be pleased to give you advice on the areas covered and can give you pre-application advice on issues such as the design, materials and repair techniques on proposals.

Further advice on the permissions required can be found on the Pre-application planning and building control advice pages of this website.

Central government guidance in PPS 5 stresses the importance of submitting enough information in an application (proportionate to the importance of the site and the scale of development) to understand the potential impact of any proposal.

Consequently, the council will often need to ask for detailed plans and drawings of proposed developments in a conservation area, including contextual drawings and photographs and, where necessary, a design and access statement.

For general information on what is required with your submission please see the Council’s planning advice and guidance page, or contact the general planning team.

The Local Planning Authority is required by law to publish notice of any planning applications that would, in their opinion, affect the special character or appearance of a Conservation Area.  Details of the proposals are published in the local press and a notice is posted on site. There is then a statutory period of 21 days when members of the public may comment on the submitted proposals if they wish.

Yes - once a decision has been made by the Council, and if you are unhappy with it, you can appeal to the Secretary of State. You will be given details of how to appeal with the notification of the decision.

If you are thinking of cutting down a tree or doing any pruning or root work you must notify the Council at least 6 weeks in advance by completing the apply to work on protected trees form. This is to give the Council time to assess the contribution the tree makes to the character of the conservation area and decide whether to make a Tree Preservation Order.

It is an offence to carry out the work within that period without the consent of the council. 

If you are concerned that unauthorised works are being carried out in a conservation area please complete the work to a listed building or demolition has occurred in a conservation area online form.

The Council’s Enforcement team will then investigate the case, follow this through to negotiations, serve enforcement notices and instigate prosecution proceedings as appropriate.

Conservation areas have a prestige value, recognising the special character and appearance of an area. They contribute to and provide a means of protecting the sustainable communities and economic vitality in these areas, ensuring that new buildings harmonise with or complement their neighbours in scale, style and use of materials, inspiring new development of imaginative and high quality design. They provide opportunities for directing resources to make environmental improvements or controlling intrusive road signs or adverts, and help to generate awareness and encourage local property owners to take the right sort of action for themselves. Certain types of grant funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage are also targeted at conservation areas (Townscape Heritage Initiatives and Heritage Economic Regeneration Schemes).

Although it is not universally available for all, there is the possibility of some financial help for property owners through various grant schemes. For further information on the current grant schemes in conservation areas see the Heritage Led Regeneration web page. The Funds for Historic Buildings website is a comprehensive guide to funding for anyone seeking to repair, restore or convert historic buildings in the United Kingdom. It includes details of virtually all funding sources which specialise in historic buildings, as well as many which provide funding for historic building as part of wider projects.

The information on these pages only provides a brief summary of the issues involved with conservation area legislation and its implications. It is not a comprehensive statement of the law. The general planning team and conservation staff will be pleased to give you advice on the areas covered. There are also various national organisations providing design advice and guidance.  The following sites contain further information on heritage issues.

English Heritage English Heritage exists to protect and promote England’s historic environment. They also publish a wide variety of guidance material on the care, restoration and development of historic buildings, monuments and landscapes.

Historic Environment Local Management Established in 2004, HELM is a partnership project led by English Heritage and supported by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Communities and Local Government and the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs. The aim of the project is to share best practice and build capacity and confidence in those dealing with the historic environment. HELM provides and funds written information and training in a number of ways. 

English Historic Towns Forum The English Historic Towns Forum explores the issues impacting on historic towns, offering support and guidance on conservation area management, traffic and visitor management, urban regeneration and design, and other planning issues. The Council is a full member of the EHTF.

CABE - The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) is the government's advisor on architecture, urban design and public space.