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PPS 6: Planning, Archaeology and The Built Heritage
Conservation Areas: Policy BH 12

Policy BH 12 New Development in a Conservation Area
The Department will normally only permit development proposals for new buildings, alterations, extensions and changes of use in, or which impact on the setting of, a conservation area where all the following criteria are met:
  1. the development preserves or enhances the character and appearance of the area;
  2. the development is in sympathy with the characteristic built form of the area;
  3. the scale, form, materials and detailing of the development respects the characteristics of adjoining buildings in the area;
  4. the development does not result in environmental problems such as noise, nuisance or disturbance which would be detrimental to the particular character of the area;
  5. important views within, into and out of the area are protected;
  6. trees and other landscape features contributing to the character or appearance of the area are protected; and
  7. the development conforms with the guidance set out in conservation area documents.

Justification and Amplification

7.4 The Department does not wish to stifle development in conservation areas. The emphasis will be on the careful control and positive management of change, to enable the area to remain alive and prosperous, but at the same time to ensure that any new development accords with the area’s special architectural or historic interest.
7.5 Designation as a conservation area puts an onus on prospective developers to produce a very high standard of design, which respects or enhances the particular qualities of the area in question. Notwithstanding the acceptability of proposals in terms of other planning issues, where any proposed development would harm the character, appearance or setting of a conservation area it will not normally be permitted.

General Criteria

7.6 General issues to be taken into account in assessing development proposals in a conservation area include the appropriateness of the overall massing of the development, its scale (the expression of size indicated by the windows, doors, floor heights, and other identifiable units), its proportions and its relationship with its context i.e. whether it sits comfortably. Development should be in harmony with, or complimentary to, its neighbours having regard to the adjoining architectural styles. The use of materials generally matching those which are historically dominant in the area is important, as is the need for the development not to have a visually disruptive impact on the existing townscape. It should also, as far as possible, fit into the “grain” of the conservation area, for example, by respecting historic layout, street patterns or existing land form. It is also important where new uses are proposed that these respect the unique character and general ambience of a conservation area, for example certain developments may adversely affect the character of a conservation area through noise, nuisance and general disturbance.

New Buildings

7.7 The development of new buildings in a conservation area should be a stimulus to imaginative, high quality design, and seen as an opportunity to enhance the area. What is important is not that new buildings should directly imitate earlier styles, rather that they should be designed with respect for their context, as part of a larger whole which has a well-established character and appearance of its own. Therefore while development of a gap site in a traditional terrace may require a very sensitive design approach to maintain the overall integrity of the area in other cases modern designs sympathetic and complimentary to the existing character of the area may be acceptable.

Alterations and Extensions

7.8 Proposals for the alteration or extension of properties in a conservation area will normally be acceptable where they are sensitive to the existing building, in keeping with the character and appearance of the particular area and will not prejudice the amenities of adjacent properties. Extensions should be subsidiary to the building, of an appropriate scale, use appropriate materials and should normally be located on the rear elevations of a property. Very careful consideration will be required for alterations and extensions affecting the roof of a property as these may be particularly detrimental to the character and appearance of a conservation area.

Change of Use

7.9 In assessing applications for the change of use of a property within a conservation area consideration will be given to both the general land use policies of the Department and the impact of the proposed use on the character and appearance of the conservation area. New uses will normally only be acceptable where any associated external alterations, for example new shop fronts, are sympathetic to their setting and relate in scale, proportions and materials to the remainder of the building and the local street scene.

Trees

7.10 Trees often make an important contribution to the appearance and character of conservation areas. In assessing development proposals affecting a conservation area the Department will therefore take into account their potential impact on existing trees. Where such trees make an important visual, historic or amenity contribution to the area and should be retained the Department will seek appropriate protection measures through the imposition of planning conditions or may consider making a tree preservation order. In some instances development may be acceptable subject to conditions requiring new tree planting or re-planting.

The Setting of Conservation Areas

7.11 Special care is also needed in the location and design of development proposals close to a conservation area. Inappropriate development outside a conservation area can have a detrimental affect on the character and setting of the area. In such cases new development will be expected to respect the character and appearance of the adjacent conservation area while the Department will also seek to retain important views in and out of the area.

Design Guides

7.12 As each conservation area has its own unique style and character, local policies and guidance for the conservation and enhancement of the area are set out in the relevant designation documents and design guides, which are produced by the Department in consultation with local district councils and the Historic Buildings Council. These constitute supplementary planning guidance and are considered to be an important material consideration. The Department will therefore attach great weight to the need for proposals for new development to accord with the specific guidance drawn up for each particular conservation area.

Information to accompany Planning Applications

7.13 The Department will normally require detailed drawings to accompany all planning applications in a conservation area which illustrate the proposal in its context. Where outline applications are submitted information on matters such as levels, materials / finishes, colouring, landscaping, access and parking may also be required to ensure that the Department can make a full assessment of the impact of development proposals. Where appropriate the Department will use its powers contained in the General Development Order to request applicants to supply such additional information on the proposed development as is considered necessary to allow proper determination. Where, on the basis of illustrative details submitted, the Department decides to grant outline permission for development a condition will then normally be imposed requiring that any reserved matters application be based on such details.
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