It can be difficult to get planning permission to build a conservatory in a conservation area and the more you understand about the process, the easier it becomes to find ways of receiving planning approval.
The first conservation areas were created over 40-years ago in 1967 and today there are over 8,000 of them in England alone.
They are chosen by Local Authorities who wish to protect areas under their jurisdiction that have some architectural or historic interest or a desirability that needs to be preserved. They can include centres of historic towns, ancient villages and suburban streets with interesting architecture.
If you have lived in a conservation area for some time you will probably be aware of the regulations and how these can affect home improvements; but if you have recently moved into the area it’s probably all new to you. However, one of the reasons that you purchased your new home may well have been the character of the area and the preservation of it the conservation status has provided.
Conservation areas are not intended to lock an area in the past as some sort of living museum, new development is permitted but it will have to be undertaken sympathetically within the existing environment.
If you are planning to build a conservatory in a conservation area or demolish an existing one that you plan to replace, it is your responsibility to find out from your Local Authority what conservation area consent you will require. Going ahead without this may result in a fine or imprisonment, or both.
We usually recommend having an informal talk with the Planning Officer at the Council about what types of development they may allow to go ahead. They may even be able to point to recent developments nearby that have been through the approval process and from which you may get some pointers as to what you may be able to undertake. This is certainly less expensive than simply submitting expensive plans that may be rejected and then having them heavily revised, adding to your costs.
Generally Planning Officers and if one is appointed, a Conservation Officer, usually find it easier to approve plans for a new or replacement conservatory if the materials used in construction are in harmony with the building it is attached too, or to those in the surrounding area.
This means using brick or stone for dwarf walls that match the main building materials of your home and using natural materials such as timber for the conservatory construction. Plastic and uPVC conservatories will usually be frowned upon, as will conservatories using polycarbonate sheets for the glazing.
You may need to paint the exterior woodwork of the conservatory to match window frames and doors of your home, but if it is built in oak or other hardwood, it may be allowed to weather and gradually blend in with the area.
The finishing details are all-important and may make all the difference between success and failure of your application. So take great care in choosing crestings and finials. These are the decorative architectural devices seen on the roof of a conservatory. The finial is the pointed feature at the front of the apex and the cresting is the piece running along the ridge of the roof. There are specific designs that accompany different periods of architecture and you don’t want to commit an architectural faux pas on the roof.
While we cannot guarantee that following these guidelines will lead to success, we can say that by doing so you will have a far better chance.
Ian Dewar –
About the Author:
Ian Dewar is a consultant to Richmond Oak Ltd and writes copy for their conservatory website.