Planning Portal

Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland
Regional Planning Policies: Policy CON 5 Conservation Areas

Policy CON 5 Conservation Areas
This policy has been superseded by: PPS 6-Planning,Archaeology and the Built Heritage
To preserve and where possible enhance the character and appearance of Conservation Areas.
Many of our towns and villages contain areas of architectural or historic interest which retain a particular character considered worthy of conservation. Already many have been designated as Conservation Areas and other areas will be identified and designated where appropriate. Existing designated areas will be reviewed periodically and adjustments to boundaries made as necessary. Great importance is attached not only to preservation of the existing character of such areas but also the promotion of their economic well-being and development. Conservation Area status may be used as a mechanism to facilitate enhancement of the townscape character and aid the process of regeneration.
As each Conservation Area has its own unique style and character, specific policies and proposals for the conservation and enhancement of the area will be set out at the designation stage. Proposals for development will be assessed against the specific policies for that particular Conservation Area. In general, development will be expected to make a positive contribution to the conservation and enhancement of the area. Modern design may be acceptable where it is sympathetic to the existing character of the area.
Applications for development in or close to existing Conservation Areas will be considered in light of the need to retain and, where possible, protect and enhance the unique character and buildings of the area. Development which would be detrimental to the character of a Conservation Area or its setting or which would have an adverse impact on important views into or out of the area will not be acceptable.
Many buildings, not just those which have been listed, make a contribution to the character and appearance of Conservation Areas. Others make little or no contribution to the area. In some cases a modem development of sympathetic design and character may be appropriate.
Outline planning applications for development in Conservation Areas will not normally be acceptable. The Department will require all applications to include:
  • full detailed drawings illustrating the proposal in its setting; and
  • sufficient information on materials, colour and landscaping to allow the Department to make a full assessment of the proposal.


Proposals for the demolition of unlisted buildings within Conservation Areas will be considered in the light of:
  • the condition of the existing property;
  • the contribution made by the existing building to the character and appearance of the area; and
  • the potential contribution of the proposed development to the character and appearance of the area.
Consent for demolition will normally only be granted where the Department has approved or is in the process of approving an acceptable scheme for a replacement development. Consent for demolition will normally be tied by condition to implementation of the approved scheme.
Proposals which involve retention of the facade only may be acceptable provided the scale of development is appropriate for the area and the scheme can be implemented without serious risk to the retained structure.


Alterations and extensions to buildings in or close to a Conservation Area which would prejudice the character of the area will not be acceptable. Extensions should where possible be located on rear elevations and should not make an undue impact on the scale or proportions of the existlng property. The setting of the existing building together with the character and appearance of adjacent properties should not be prejudiced.
Alterations and extensions which affect the roof of a property can be particularly incongruous. Such extensions will only be acceptable where they are in keeping with the existing buildings and the architectural form of the surrounding area.
In most circumstances the retention of existing features such as doors or windows will be required. Replacement of such features must be of appropriate design and be constructed in traditional materials. Aluminium and uPVC will not normally be acceptable.

Change of Use

Applications for the change of use of a property within a Conservation Area may be acceptable. Consideration will be given to both general land use policies and the contribution of the existing use and the impact of the proposed use on the character of the Conservation Area. Uses considered detrimental to the character, fabric or appearance of an area will normally be resisted.
Where possible developers will be encouraged to take opportunities to restore buildings to their original appearance and replace historic features which have been lost. Original shopfronts within conservation areas should where possible be retained and restored. It is important that new shopfronts are sympathetic to the setting and relate in scale, proportions and material to the remainder of the building and the local street scene. Shopfronts which span more than one building frontage will not normally be acceptable.
Advertisements which are inappropriate in terms of scale or materials will be resisted as will signs which would detract from the architectural quality of the building on which it is displayed or the area in general. The proliferation of signs will not be acceptable.


An enhancement strategy will be prepared for each Conservation Area. In it proposals will be set out to improve the environment within the area, encourage regeneration and promote the area as an attractive place to live or work. Proposals may include the landscaping of open spaces, the removal of overhead lines, and improvements to paved areas and street furniture consistent with the retention of the unique character of the area.
Where necessary the Department will consider making a direction under Article 4 of the Planning (General Development) Order (NI) 1993 restricting permitted development rights within the Conservation Area. This will only he necessary where it is judged that the exercise of permitted development rights could lead to a serious erosion of the character of the area. In all cases such a direction will only withdraw those specific permitted development rights which are considered to be inappropriate.
The Department will consider ways to give greater protection to trees within Conservation Areas. Where other areas of particular townscape character are identified policies will be identified to maintain or enhance that character.
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