Conservation areas: general information
Developing strategies for Bury's Conservation Areas
Conservation Areas were first introduced by the Civic Amenities Act 1967. The Act has now been incorporated and expanded into the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 which provides the statutory basis for planning control within Conservation Areas. This current Act imposes a duty on the local planning authority to designate Conservation Areas (where appropriate) and to bring forward policies and proposals for the preservation and enhancement of such areas.
Policies therefore need to be developed which clearly identify the characteristics or appearance of each conservation area and then set out the means by which the primary objectives of protection and enhancement are to be achieved. Development policies for the Borough are described in the Council's Unitary Development Plan, which also introduces the next policy stage relevant to Conservation Areas, the production of individual "Strategies" for each area. The proposed "Conservation Area Strategies" will bring forward specific proposals for each area and will be subject to extensive public consultation.
However, before Conservation Area Strategies can be prepared it is considered necessary to simply identify and introduce the designated Conservation Areas to ensure that the boundaries of these special areas are widely recognised.
The elements that make up a Conservation Area
Designating a Conservation Area is a statement of intent by the Council to protect and, where possible, improve its special qualities. The procedure for designation of a Conservation Area usually involves survey and assessment of the character and qualities of the area concerned. The will include evaluation of:
- The origins and development of the topographic framework
- The archaeological significance and potential of the area including any Scheduled Ancient Monuments
- The architectural and historic quality, character and coherence of the buildings, both listed and unlisted, and the contribution which they make to the special interest of the area
- The character and hierarchy of spaces and townscape quality
- Prevalent and traditional building materials particularly those which are characteristic of the local vernacular styles
- The contribution made by green spaces, trees, hedges and other natural or cultivated elements to the character of the area
- The prevailing (or former) uses within the area and their historic patronage and the influence of these on the settlement form and building types
- The relationship of the built environment to landscape or open countryside, including definition of significant landmarks, vistas and panoramas where appropriate
- The extent of loss, intrusion, or damage (i.e. features which detract from the special character of the area).
What are the Implications of a Conservation Area Designation?
The designation of a Conservation Area is a major land use policy decision and introduces a number of legal and other controls. The Council's Planning Policies with regard to Conservation Areas are outlined in the adopted Unitary Development Plan (UDP), Policies EN2, EN2/1 and EN2/2. The UDP is currently under review.
Case law has established that the character and appearance of Conservation Areas should always be given full weight in planning decisions and that the objective of preservation can be achieved either by development which makes a positive contribution to the area's character or appearance, or, by development which leaves the character or appearance unharmed.