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  • Writer's pictureTim Carter

Five musts for seeking planning consent in a Conservation Area

Conservation Areas exist to protect the special historic or architectural interest of a place and are subject to stricter planning rules than elsewhere. Their history or character often makes them very desirable places to live, but building something new in a Conservation Area can be challenging. There are plenty of pitfalls which we can help you negotiate. Our five musts reflect the way we work and can significantly improve your chances of getting a planning consent in a Conservation Area.

Our contemporary Anchorage project is situated in the heart of the Wyre Piddle Conservation Area. It met fierce local opposition, however was approved at planning committee.

1. Preserve or enhance. As with most planning policy, policies regarding Conservation Areas can be subject to interpretation by the Local Planning Authority and particularly the Conservation Officer. Early engagement is key. Often, the Conservation Officer has key concerns or particular aspects which need to be addressed in the design. Understanding these constraints early in the process, through engagement with the LPA, is a key part of developing a successful application.

2. Don’t fall into the trap of avoiding ambitious design. Good design enhances a place. Merely creating a copy of what exists nearby is an unimaginative and flawed approach. We carefully craft our designs to respond to the historic context, ensuring that any addition or alteration which we’re proposing is a thoughtful, and appropriate intervention into that historic area without compromising on the quality of the design. There are many examples of contemporary design being approved in a Conservation Area because it enhances them, and our Anchorage project is an example of this. In addition, read about our guide to Avoid Compromising the Design Before You’ve Even Begun.

3. Engage with the neighbours. The chances are that communities living in Conservation Areas are going to be protective of it. Engaging with them before a planning application is submitted, is a great way to give yourself an easier ride through planning. You’ll always find people who will object to something new, but you’ll also find neighbours who are inspired, and might even tell you something about the site or history which you didn’t know before. It’s not only the building that needs to integrate into the area but also the people who will be living or working there. Early engagement with the community can forge better relationships throughout the planning process but can help create stronger communities.

4. Work in three dimensions. Engaging with both Local Planning Authority and the local community, it is important to illustrate the design in a clear way so that everyone can fully understand the positive impact the design will have and answer any concerns. Two dimensional drawings often do not provide sufficient information to do this which is why we always design in three dimensions. It is all about demonstrating that the proposals will preserve or enhance the area, and this is where clearly showing the proposals in 3D can have a big impact on how everyone perceives the design.

5. Be patient, be flexible. Be prepared to be flexible with your design to avoid disappointment. We’ll always push the boundaries of design and sustainability to get the best possible end result for you, but often this takes time and patience in working with the Conservation Officer. The design process needs to be flexible to respond to the views and policies of the LPA and Conservation officer, and those of the local community. We will always work with you to achieve the best possible outcome.

We can help you overcome the challenges of seeking planning consent in a Conservation Area and make your project journey that much more enjoyable. If you’d like to talk about a specific project then please get in touch.

Three Acres is at the heart of a Conservation Area, and within an AONB. Our early design work paid careful attention to these constraints.

We design better buildings.


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