A conservation area is defined as an area of "special architectural or historic interest the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance".
Conservation areas were introduced through the Civic Amenities Act 1967. They are designated by local authorities under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.
The Council has designated (selected) 36 conservation areas. These are listed on the map Conservation Areas in Mid Sussex with the dates of designation. Many contain listed buildings, but this is not a requirement of designation. Plans of the boundaries of individual conservation areas are available to view at the District Council offices.
Once a conservation area is designated the Council is required by the legislation to preserve or enhance the character of the area and development proposals have to be considered in light of this requirement.
Preserving or Enhancing Conservation Areas
Local authorities are required to review the extent of designation and to draw up and publish proposals for the preservation and enhancement of their conservation areas.
The Council has undertaken a number of conservation area appraisals which involves making a detailed assessment of the special interest and character of the conservation area so as to protect its essential qualities and to provide guidance for planning. It also involves reviewing the boundaries of the conservation area and in some cases extending the area designated.
To date, the Council has adopted four conservation area appraisals, for Cuckfield, The Heath, Fulking and West Hoathly. The boundary changes to the Cuckfield and West Hoathly Conservation Areas have been approved by the Council following a Cabinet resolution. The boundary changes to Fulking and The Heath Conservation Areas are yet to be approved by the Council. The proposed boundary changes are shown in the Conservation Area Appraisal documents.
Development in Conservation Areas
To enable their special architectural or historic interest to be preserved or enhanced, conservation areas are subject to additional statutory planning controls, these are summarised below. However, if there is any doubt whether consents are required, advice should be sought from the planning department.
In considering planning applications in conservation areas, the Council will also be guided by planning policies set out in the Mid Sussex Local Plan 2004.
If you own a dwelling house* within a conservation area, in addition to normal planning controls, planning permission is required from the Council for certain external works including:
- The cladding of any part of the exterior;
- Enlargement of a dwelling consisting of an extension beyond a wall forming a side elevation of the original dwelling;
- Enlargement of a dwelling consisting of an extension of more than one storey which extends beyond the rear wall of the original dwelling;
- Enlargement of a dwelling consisting of an addition or alteration to its roof (excluding rooflights);
- The erection within the curtilage of the dwelling house of a building, enclosure, pool or container, which is situated between the side of the dwelling and the boundary;
- The installation of an antenna on a chimney, or to a building which exceeds 15 metres in height or to a wall or roof slope which fronts a highway;
- The installation, alteration or replacement of a chimney, flue or soil and vent pipe on a wall or roof slope which fronts a highway and forms either the principal elevation or a side elevation of a dwelling;
- The installation, alteration or replacement of a microwave antenna on a chimney, wall or roof slope which faces onto, and is visible from, a highway, or on a building which exceeds 15 metres in height.
- The demolition of garden walls, gates and fences.
*It should be noted that a dwelling house does not include a building containing one or more flats, or a flat contained within such a building. Flats do not have the same development rights as 'dwelling houses'.
The size of commercial extensions that may be carried out without specific planning permission is also more restrictive. Commercial premises have fewer "permitted development" rights than dwelling houses to start with and most external alterations, e.g. replacement of timber sash windows with UPVC windows, require planning permission.
Trees can make an important contribution to the character and appearance of a conservation area. Anyone proposing to top, lop or fell a tree in a conservation area which is not protected by a Tree Preservation Order is required to give six weeks notice to the Council, subject to certain exceptions, before commencing work. Trees have legal protection equivalent to a Tree Preservation Order for that period within which the Council may, if it considers it to be appropriate, make an Order.
Shopfronts and Advertisements
Historic shopfronts make an important contribution to the overall appearance of a conservation area. Where possible such shopfronts should be retained. New shopfronts should be designed in sympathy with the rest of the elevation of the building, adjacent properties and should contribute to the overall character of the conservation area.
Because of the special interest of most conservation areas, certain categories of ‘deemed consent' advertisements, which may have a significant visual impact, are not permitted for display without the consent of the Council.
Telephone: 01444 477385