Conservation areas are designed to protect locations that are of special interest either historically or architecturally, preserving the features that make that area unique.
The concept of Conservation areas was introduced in the 1967 Civic Amenities Act. This act was superseded in 1990 by the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservations Areas) Act.
There are now over 9,000 conservation areas in England and Wales and the first to be designated was Stamford in Lincolnshire.
Types of conservation area
Most conservation areas in the UK are designated by the relevant local planning authority. However in London, Historic England can designate conservation
areas in consultation with the relevant London Borough Council.
Conservation areas in Kensington
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is an area of tremendous architectural significance with 70% of the area being covered by 35 separate conservation areas. The area is perhaps best known for its numerous magnificent mansion blocks, however there are various reasons why each of the 35 conservation areas exists.
Most of them have a proposal statement, which sets out why the area is protected, what its special features are and what the RBKC plans are for the area. To find out more, click here
Living in a conservation area in Kensington (and other parts of London!) comes with both pros and cons.
The cons of living in a conservation area
The cons of living in a conservations area relate to planning. If you live in or run a business in a conservation area, you may need permission from the Council before making alterations such as changing windows, installing solar panels, adding extensions, laying paving or building walls. This list is not exhaustive and is subject to change so we recommend you contact the council before starting any work to a property in a conservation area.
If you’re thinking of pruning or cutting down a tree in a conservation area, you must notify the council at least six weeks in advance. This will give them time to assess the contribution the tree makes to the character of the area and decide whether to make it subject to a Tree Preservation Order.
Demolition – this goes without saying that you will need permission to demolish the whole of parts of a property within a conservation area.
The pros of living in a conservation area
Despite the tighter restrictions on planning within a conservation area there are more positives than negatives. Research done in 2012 by the London School of Economics and Historic England showed that houses in conservation areas sell at a premium and show greater appreciation in value than properties located elsewhere, retaining their value even during economic downturns.
It is apparent from house prices that the extra planning controls within conservation areas are not seen as an unwelcome burden. People value living in places that are well designed and have architectural integrity as well as the stronger sense of community these areas seem to nurture.
When the time comes to sell your property the preserved character of the building and the area will make sure your home is appealing to others looking to buy.