By Jeremy Richardson, GRASS committee member and conservation specialist at BCR Surveyors.
In 2018 we needed to have a complete change of scene and having looked at our options settled on Cliftonville West. It is very different from our previous area – textbook suburbia on the Surrey London borders – but just what we needed. We love the architecture and heritage, wonderful Victorian and Georgian housing and the local amenities, with so much going on (Covid permitting!) – cafes, restaurants, art, culture and entertainment plus a great mix of people – very friendly and many have a real interest in caring for and improving the neighbourhood we share.
What we did not know was that we had purchased a house in a Conservation Area. Since we had plans to change and improve the house, we needed to find out what the rules and regulations were so that the work we carried out would be compliant. This is a summary of our research:
Conservation areas exist to protect the special architectural and historic interest of a place – in other words the features that make it unique and distinctive. They have been protecting some of Britain’s most beautiful areas since 1967 with over 10,000 across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, including battlefields, housing estates and canals. There are 27 conservation areas in Thanet with several in Cliftonville and Margate.
People value conservation areas for their distinctiveness, visual appeal and historic character. However, living in a conservation area means there are extra rules around what you can and cannot do to your home.
‘Permitted development rights’ allow for certain changes to a property without the need for planning permission. However, in conservation areas, these are restricted by special controls (called ‘Article 4 Directions’). This means that you need to make planning applications for some forms of development.
If you want to cut down, top, or lop, any but the smallest of trees in a conservation area you must notify your local planning authority six weeks before work begins. The authority will then consider the contribution the tree makes to the character of the area and if necessary, create a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) to protect it.
If you live in a conservation area and want to demolish your building, you will need Planning Permission. If the building is listed, Listed Building Consent will be required for both internal and exterior works.
Contact TDC planning authority for further information about conservation areas.