What Is A Conservation Area?
A Conservation Area is an area of 'special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’ The designation can cover a wide range of the built heritage, usually the historic centres of towns or villages or distinctive settlements. A wide range of features can contribute to the ‘special character’ such as architecture, open spaces, hedges and trees historic, associations, landmark features, walls and fences. It is often the mixture of all these elements that makes a place worthy of conservation area status.
How Is One Designated?
An area, which has ‘special architectural or historical interest’ is first identified as a possible Conservation Area, consultation is carried out with the Parish or Town Council and Community, then a proposal for designation is recommended to the Members of the Council who make the final decision and formally designate the area.
What Is A Character Appraisal?
Character Appraisals are written to assess and document the valuable aspects of a Conservation Area, such as the evolution of the area, the context or setting, and the individual characteristics of buildings and open spaces that add to the overall character and appearance of the area.
This document is then used by local residents, developers and planners to asses aspects of a conservation area that need to be considered when preparing or considering planning applications.
The Forest of Dean Local Plan identifies that all Conservation Areas should be subject to Character Appraisal.
The appraisal is offered for public consultation for comment, usually for eight weeks, before being considered for final adoption at Cabinet by elected members.
Supplementary Planning Documents
Alvington, Blaisdon, Blakeney and Awre, Dymock, English Bicknor, Hewelsfield, Littledean, Longhope, Lydney, Newnham-on-Severn, Pillowerll, Snigs End and Staunton-Corse Conservation Area Appraisals are supported by Supplementary Planning Documents (SPD). They are intended to aid Development Control in making decisions about the appropriateness of proposals within Conservation Areas, including the use of Character Appraisals as evidence and support wider policies for the historic environment.
Through the analysis of individual elements of an area, the finer details of its individual character can be established. The Forest of Dean Local Plan identifies that all Conservation Areas should be subject to Character Appraisal, and in this authority it has been decided that they should be adopted as Supplementary Planning Documents. This involves a consultation process for each individual or group of appraisals.
An important part of the SPD process is to consider the impact the SPD's will have on the environment, economy and society, this is done through the Sustainability Appraisal (SA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). In January 2007 the council in consultation with organisations such as Natural England, the Environment Agency and English Heritage determined that the Conservation Area SPD's were unlikely to have significant effects on the environment, economy or society. This was largely due to the small nature of the conservation areas and that the Character Assessment represented only minor changes when compared to the existing local plan policies. The Determination Advertisement and Determination Statement of Reasons can be viewed here.
What Effect Does The Designation Have?
The designation of a Conservation Area will affect an area in a number of ways. For example the permitted development rights of the properties within the conservation area will be affected. In normal circumstances, householders have certain ‘Permitted Development’ rights to carry out minor works to their properties, without requiring planning permission, such as small extensions and new garden sheds.
In Conservation Areas, ‘Permitted Development’ rights are reduced and works, which normally don’t require permission do, these are listed below:
- Some types of cladding
- The insertion of dormer windows into roof slopes
- The erection of satellite dishes on walls, roofs or chimneys fronting a highway
- The installation of radio masts, antennae or radio equipment housing with a volume in excess of two cubic metres
- Changes to walls and fences or other means of enclosure
- The size of house and industrial extensions that may be carried out without specific planning permission is also more restricted. Certain demolition works may also require consent in conservation areas
- Living in a Conservation Area requires householders to respect the special character or appearance of the area when making changes affecting the outside of their properties.
- Replacement external windows and doors may require planning permission.
Article Four (2) Directions
A Local Authority has the power to place Article Four (2) Directions on properties within conservation areas, which restricts the permitted development rights of the owners. Article Four (2) Directions will only be placed on those conservation areas which are deemed to be of considerable importance and with the support of the local community. Article Four (2) directions have been notified for Newnham Conservation Area after consultation with residents. The Direction was approved by the Executive Committee on the 16th November 2006
The direction is designed to further protect a historic area and prevent inappropriate alterations occurring, for example the introduction of uPVC windows in a historic building.
The Council has also made an Article 4 direction on land not within conservation at Land off Redhouse Lane, Murrells Road and Smithy Close, English Bicknor which seeks to protect designiated important open areas from enclosure by walls or fences. This direction was agreed by the Development Control Committee on the 14th June 2011. See attached plan: Article Four Map English Bicknor
Trees in Conservation Areas
All trees within a conservation area automatically become protected once the area is designated. This means six weeks prior notice to the Local Authority would also be required for any proposals to lop, top or fell trees within the designated Conservation Area. For further information please see county side section (link)
How many Conservation Areas does the Forest have?
At present the Forest of Dean has 27 conservation areas, the most recent of which is Lydney, designated in 2005.
Current Appraisal Areas and Related Maps