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11 Aug, 2023/ by Homeward Legal /Buyer, First Time Buyer, Sale & Purchase

When you decide to buy a home based in a conservation area, while there are various constraints and stipulations on what you can and can't do to the external features of the property, there is a certain cachet about living within such a designated area.

The statutory definition of a conservation area is: An area of special architectural or historic interest, the character of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance.

Or, to put it another way, they are in place to manage and protect areas of particular architectural or historical interest or significance.

According to Historic England, the organisation that oversees the historical inheritance of the country, there are over 10,000 conservation areas in England, with each local authority managing at least one of them.

Typically, Historic England dictates, the types of area that might become designated as conservation areas, if not already, are:

  1. Town or village centres (particularly where it relates to an architectural style, or because of its particular history, such as being an ancient market town)
  2. Fishing and mining villages (specifically because these were historically two dominant industries)
  3. Suburbs constructed in the eighteenth, nineteenth or twentieth centuries (again for the similarity of style in the buildings' construction, or because something of import might have occurred there)
  4. Model housing estates (as the first of their kind)
  5. Country houses in their own parks (usually of both historical and architectural interest)
  6. Historic transport links and the surrounding area (which might include a canal system and its banks, railways and sidings, and certain airfields)
  7. Industrial heritage sites (the British involvement in industrial revolutions through the centuries make locations of, for example, cutlery-making or potteries of particular importance and interest)

It is predominantly the responsibility of the local authority to designate a conservation area, and then to oversee its adherence to the variety of rules. Specifically, the authority must follow the guidelines dictated by the National Planning Policy Framework, although Historic England can also designate areas under the banner, after which the local authority governs its state.

For those owning a property in a conservation area, they should be mindful of any work they want to complete. There are necessarily constrictions on certain types of activity and also planning permission required for some changes to the exterior of the property that, outside the conservation area, would not need it.

Under the auspices of permitted development, the rights are slightly different, too, which means that two-storey extensions, changes to the style of windows (e.g. removing sash windows or creating a dormer) and installation of stone cladding or similar will require planning permission, as would an application for change of use.

When it comes to what is included for the unwary new owner, the general rule of thumb is to question any changes being considered to the external parts of the property and whether a petition of planning permission needs to be lodged with the local authority. If you're unsure, your council will be able to answer any questions you might have - or they might even have the necessary information on their website.

In the garden, any tree other than very small ones will be subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), which means that anything you intend to do with it - even lopping off branches, or pruning it - will need six weeks' notice lodged with the council before work is planned to start. If you go ahead and authorisation is not received, you will be liable for the cost of the tree's reinstatement. Bear in mind that this is likely to be the case with overhanging branches from a neighbour's property, too.

In summary, as far as the building itself is concerned, you will require planning permission for any replacement doors and windows (to ensure conformance with the conservation theme), changes to gutters and downpipes (particularly a change of colour), installation of extra furniture such as a satellite dish, etc., and any plans to paint the brickwork in any colour (if none currently exists, or a different colour if it does).

All of this probably sounds a bit daunting, but you shouldn't be put off. A qualified conveyancing solicitor who knows the area well is what you want to ensure that everything that needs to be understood about a property you want to buy in a conservation area is clearly identified.

And you want a conveyancing solicitor who is high quality but low cost.

And that's where Homeward Legal comes in! 

Homeward Legal will provide a quote that will not change - what you are quoted is what you pay (there are some unforeseen items that might arise during the purchase and/or sale, such as more detailed searches, but the solicitor discusses these and their cost as they arise). 

In addition, to protect the homebuyer further, Homeward Legal operates a ‘no completion, no fee' promise, which ensures that, should the purchase or sale not go through as planned to completion status, no payment is required.

Call  to get your conveyancing quote started, or to discuss any of your concerns with your plans to move.

Or you can get a quick quote, using Homeward Legal's easy-to-use quote generator quote generator.

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