A Conservation Area is an area designated by the Local Planning Authority as one of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance. Special controls exist with regard to demolition of buildings, advertisements and the like within the Conservation Area. Listed Building Consent must also be obtained for any demolition, even if the building is not itself listed.
The Conservation Areas In the Borough
- Dartford Town Centre
- Hook Green
- Church Hill, Wilmington
- Red Street
In designating new conservation areas and reviewing the boundaries of existing conservation areas, the prime consideration will be the quality and interest of the area, rather than that of individual buildings. The following criteria will be taken into account:
- Origins and development of topographical features such as medieval road pattern, formal layouts and the relationship of buildings to open spaces.
- Archaeological significance and potential, including any scheduled ancient monuments.
- Architectural and historic quality, character and coherence of the buildings, both listed and unlisted, and the contribution they make to the special interest of the area.
- Character and hierarchy of spaces and townscape quality.
- Current mix of uses within the area and the influence of these on the plan form and building types.
- Range of traditional materials prevalent in the area, particularly those which are characteristic of local vernacular styles.
- Contribution made by greens or green spaces, trees, hedges and other natural or cultivated elements to the character of the area.
- Relationship of the built environment to landscape or open countryside, including significant landmarks, vistas and panoramas, both within and out of the area.
- Scaling and detailing of contemporary buildings.
- Quality of advertisements, shop fronts, street furniture and hard and soft surfaces.
- Features which detract from the special character of the area, such as traffic intrusion and its constraints on pedestrian movement.
- Neutral features which neither enhance or detract from the character or appearance of the area.
Demolition of Unlisted Buildings in a Conservation Area
With some minor exceptions, proposals for the demolition of unlisted buildings or structures in conservation areas requires conservation area consent. The general presumption should be in favour of retaining all unlisted buildings which make a positive contribution to the character or appearance of a conservation area.
If you live in a conservation area, you will need conservation area consent to do the following:
- Demolish a building with a volume of more than 115 cubic metres. There are a few exceptions - you can get further information from your council.
- To demolish a gate, fence, wall or railing over 1 metre high next to a highway (including a public footpath or bridleway) or public open space; or over 2 metres high elsewhere.
Even if your proposals do not include the work mentioned above you should still check if an application for conservation area consent is required.
If your application for conservation area consent is refused, granted with conditions or not determined within eight weeks of it being validated by the council then you have the right to appeal to the Secretary of State.
Proposals to demolish such buildings will be assessed against the same criteria as proposals to demolish listed buildings. Those buildings or structures specifically identified within the area appraisals prepared for each of the conservation areas as having townscape value make a positive contribution. Other buildings not specifically identified may also fall into this category.
Development Within a Conservation Area
Conservation area designation is not a device for prohibiting change but rather, for ensuring that it is carried out sensitively and in a manner sympathetic to the character of the area. The Dartford Town Centre Conservation Area, for example, includes most of the commercial centre of the town.
The conservation of the character and appearance of conservation areas will need to be balanced by the need for controlled and positive management of change.
In order to assess the likely impact of a planning application and its compliance with policies, detailed plans and drawings of proposed new developments, including elevations, will need to accompany any planning application. Outline applications for development in conservation areas will not be considered.
Trees in Conservation Areas
Conservation Areas are areas designated by local authorities for building and landscape conservation, not nature conservation. However, to work on trees within a Conservation Area a landowner needs to give six weeks notice in writing to the Council.
Government policy guidance is contained in PPG 15:
General information on conservation areas is available on the English Heritage website