Conservation areas

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.'

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What is a conservation area?

Conservation areas are designated to protect their special architectural and historic interest from adverse development and encourage wherever possible their enhancement. Designation introduces a general control over demolition and provides the basis for policies designed to preserve and enhance all the aspects of character or appearance that define an area's special interest.

When an area is designated a conservation area the council has a duty to give special regard to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of the area" in all its planning decisions.

The need to pay 'special regard' means that the council must give the highest consideration to this duty.

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How are conservation areas chosen?

Conservation areas in Lichfield District vary greatly in character and type, ranging from the Cathedral town centre to rural villages and canals.

They are designated usually because of the architectural and historic interest of their buildings, but their value depends on much more than these alone. The historic layout of property boundaries and thoroughfares, the mix of uses, the use of materials, vistas along streets, the spaces between buildings, the presence of trees and soft landscape are all important factors that contribute to the special interest of an area.

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How are they protected?

In addition to the important overriding policy requirement that all new development should pay special regard to the character or appearance of the conservation area, additional controls also exist to protect existing buildings and features from adverse change.

The most important of these is the need to obtain conservation area consent for the demolition of all but very small structures. In addition there are stricter controls on permitted development (that is minor works that are normally automatically permitted) and notice has to be given to the Council before works to trees are carried out. In Conservation Areas, special consideration is given to maintaining the qualities which give the area its particular character by:

  • carefully considering new development proposals.
  • permitting the demolition of buildings or the removal of trees only in fully justified circumstances and where appropriate redevelopment is proposed.
  • advising owners, occupiers and other interested individuals and organisations on the care and maintenance of trees and property (including alterations to doors, windows, providing advice on the siting of satellite dishes and other antennae apparatus, boundary and other walls, as well as gateways), however minor in nature.
  • where appropriate, preparing proposals for enhancement of the conservation Area.
  • co-operating with other authorities and conservation organisations in activities designed to promote conservation generally or to assist conservation projects within the Borough, for example through exhibitions, town schemes or facelift proposals.
  • respecting the aims of conservation within the Local Authority's own activities and development projects.
  • through monitoring change and developments assess how best to retain the special character of conservation areas for the future.

Although the types of permitted development are more restricted in conservation areas, these powers on their own are often not enough to halt the erosion of the character of an area through the gradual loss of building details such original timber windows and doors on old buildings.

To address this, the Council has the powers to take away permitted rights on selected properties by serving what is known as an Article 4 Direction (see below) after first consulting the residents affected.

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Conservation areas in Lichfield District

There are twenty-one designated conservation areas in the Lichfield District, they are:

Trent and Mersey Canal conservation areas include:

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Conservation area appraisals and management plans

Conservation area appraisals are being carried out as part of the groundwork for the district's new Local Development Framework (LDF). The LDF is a new plan that is currently being developed and is set to make sure the district is developed the right way in future years.

The conservation area appraisals are being carried out to help record, protect and enhance the character and appearance of local conservation areas as part of the plan.

They will also help shape how decisions are made about conservation areas in future years.

So far we have carried out the following:

Alrewas: Appraisal & Management Plan

Clifton Campville: Appraisal & Management Plan

Fazeley and Bonehill: Appraisal and Management Plan

Kings Bromley: Appraisal & Management Plan   

Lichfield City: Full Appraisal (Report in sections: Introduction and Overview, Cultural Spaces, Residential Outskirts, Commercial Core)

Little Aston: Appraisal & Management Plan 

Shenstone: Appraisal & Management Plan

Colton Appraisal and Management Plan

Harlaston: Appraisal and Management Plan

Hopwas: Appraisal and Management Plan

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Draft conservation area appraisals

In addition to the current conservation areas, this year we will be consulting on three new conservation areas:

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What is an Article 4 Direction

This is a legal device available to all local authorities enabling them to exert tighter controls on changes to the outside of houses facing a road or open space that could damage the character and appearance of the conservation area.

It does this by requiring owners to obtain planning permission for certain types of development that would otherwise be automatically permitted.

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Article 4 Direction and Lichfield District

There are many fine historic buildings within the 21 Conservation Areas in Lichfield District that are not protected as listed buildings. Nevertheless, these buildings are important to local people because they form part of the familiar and cherished local scene.

The district council believes that these buildings deserve greater protection from insensitive small scale alterations, which over time erode the special character of these areas.

There are three areas with older style Article 4 Directions at the present time. These are: Lichfield City Centre, Mousley Terrace, Frog Lane and the St Chad's Extension to Lichfield City.

It has therefore been decided to tighten planning controls over external alterations to older houses, initially in two conservation areas as pilots, by means of an Article 4 Direction.

A rolling programme of adopting Article 4 Directions will follow for the remaining conservation areas. Wigginton and Whittington were chosen as the first conservation areas to be covered and the directions have been in place since October 2003.

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Does Article 4 Directions affect me?

In addition to the normal requirements for planning permission, the following alterations or demolition would require planning permission as a result of the Article 4 Direction:

  • The installation or alteration of windows and doors
  • The erection of an extension of any size to the side or front of a house
  • Alteration to the roof, including changing materials, the insertion of dormer windows or roof lights
  • The addition of a porch to an entrance facing a road or open space The provision of a hard surface within the grounds of a house for the parking of vehicles
  • The alteration, removal or erection of any gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure within the grounds of a house
  • The painting of the exterior of any part of a house or of a building within the grounds of a house not previously painted
  • The installation or replacement of a satellite antennae
  • Rendering walls not previously rendered
  • The alteration or removal of a chimney to the house or any other building within the grounds of the house
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Any questions?

If your home or business is based in a conservation area that is affected by Article 4 Directions, please contact our team on 01543 308188/203 or email design.conservation@lichfielddc.gov.uk for advice and guidance.

More on Conservation and listed buildings


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