It's 50 years since the designation of the first conservation area in the UK, the village of Stamford in Lincolnshire holding this title. Today with over 10,000 in force - around 650 of which are in Scotland - conservation areas are often seen as some of the most desirable locations in which to live and purchase a property.
Behind the period charm and original features, however, be aware that planning restrictions may apply and have a bearing on any renovations or home improvements you plan to carry out. One unfortunate proprietor recently ended up in court after knocking down a garden wall...
Broadly, the additional constraints on properties in conservation areas mean that planning permission is required for works including:
- carrying out alterations to a roof;
- building an extension - planning permission may be required for extensions that would otherwise be covered by permitted development rights;
- installing a satellite dish;
- forming a parking space;
- adding a porch;
- painting the exterior of a building or cleaning the stonework;
- for flats a greater range of works is covered, including replacing any windows or external doors.
For these types of alterations and improvements, you will likely have to apply for planning permission from the local authority before starting works. Conservation Area Consent may also be required if the development involves any demolition, such as for the prominent works consented last year at Canonmills Bridge in Edinburgh.
Local authorities also have powers to make 'Article 4 directions', which are additional rules or exceptions to all or part of a conservation area within their boundary so it's worth checking the specific controls applying to your area.
Note that the position is different in England, with the system of Conservation Area Consent having been abolished in 2013.
Whether you are buying or renovating in a conservation area north or south of the border, it is advisable to check with the planning department about the specific works you are intending before picking up a paint brush or sledgehammer...