The role of local authorities/councils in managing conservation areas

Q: What are requirements on local authorities with respect to conservation areas?

A: Local authorities have duties to designate conservation areas where they have identified areas that are of special interest, and then to review them from time to time. They also have a duty to make proposals to preserve or enhance the conservation areas designated. When using their planning powers, they need to pay special attention to the “desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of that area”. This is best achieved by carrying out an appraisal and producing a conservation area management plan or strategy.

Q: How should my local authority look after its conservation areas?

A: Local planning authorities are required to “formulate and publish proposals for the preservation or enhancement of their conservation areas”. English Heritage believe this is best achieved by carrying out an appraisal of the conservation area to understand what gives it its character and appearance and which then influences the management plan. More on this can be found in our Guidance on the management of conservation areas. www.helm.org.uk

Q: How does my local authority control changes that detract from the character of the conservation area?

A: Local authorities are required to pay special attention to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of a conservation area, in anything they do or have control over.

Q: Is it true that planning applications are free in conservation areas? Our council says they are reluctant to process them because they won’t earn a fee.

A: The only exception to fees being required for planning applications is when the proposed works require specific planning permission because of an Article 4 direction. There is no fee requirement for listed building consent or conservation area consent applications either.