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

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 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.

There is no standard specification for what constitutes a conservation area. They range in size from whole villages or town centres to small groups of buildings. Listed buildings may form part of a conservation area, but are not essential.

Other attractive building groups, landscapes, historic street patterns, walls, trees and archaeological sites and monuments may also form the basis of a conservation area. It is the character of an area defined by its architectural and/or historical quality and interest that the legislation seeks to protect rather than simply individual buildings within the area.

Designation of a conservation area does not preclude new development or alterations to existing buildings, but we have a duty to ensure that any new development enhances or, at the very least, does not harm the character or appearance of the area. It is therefore important that the qualities and character of the area which resulted in the designation of the conservation area are identified and recognised.

Our duty to protect conservation areas

Conservation areas are designated by the Borough Council to protect those parts of our towns and villages which have special architectural or historic character. The purpose of conservation areas is to help prevent the erosion of those special architectural and historic qualities by controlling unsympathetic alterations and development, or loss from demolition.

Local authorities must develop policies that clearly identify the characteristics or appearance of each conservation area and set out the means by which the primary objectives of protection and enhancement are to be achieved.

Development policies for the Bury 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.

Before conservation area strategies can be prepared, it is considered necessary to simply identify and introduce the designated conservation area to ensure that the boundaries of these special areas are widely recognised.

If you suspect that anything is taking place without planning permission in a conservation area, please first check the Planning register where you can search for Planning applications.

If you still consider there has been a breach of Planning Control in a conservation area please use the form below to report it and include as much information as you can, you can also upload photographs and documents. Note this form will direct you to the Planning Enforcement page where you will find a contact form at the bottom of the page to report unauthorised works

Development in conservation areas

Because of the importance of detail within the conservation areas, new developments and alterations to existing buildings, however small, could threaten the general character if not carefully and sympathetically designed. Therefore, when any work is contemplated, it may be helpful to discuss proposals with the Conservation Officer at the earliest stage.

When contemplating development proposals within conservation areas, we recommended seeking suitably qualified, professional advice from an architect or building surveyor. They will be able to ensure that your proposal is designed in accordance with the constraints laid down by the conservation area and direct you to employ builders skilled in working in historic areas.

The primary aim is to preserve and enhance the character of an area as a whole rather than by simply protecting individual buildings. The designation of a conservation area is not intended to prevent subsequent development, as sensitively designed new buildings can often enhance the character of a Conservation Area.

High standards of design will be expected for new buildings in conservation areas to ensure that the character of the area is maintained or enhanced.

This only applies to single family dwelling houses and does not apply to flats, apartments and boarding houses. Before carrying out any work please speak to staff in the Planning Division.

Permitted development and conservation areas

Most householders are able to carry out certain alterations to their properties without the need to obtain planning permission. These are known as 'permitted development rights'. In conservation areas some of these rights are removed and planning permission is required for such development.

Planning permission advice in conservation areas

Conservation areas in Bury

The Borough Council has a duty to designate as conservation areas any 'areas of special architectural or historic interest the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance'. Assessment of whether an area is worthy of conservation area status is based on guidelines issued by the Government and English Heritage.

Assessment is made with regard to traditional materials and features, particularly those in a local style or buildings which form part of a scheme of architectural or town planning significance. Archaeology, landscape and setting, landmarks, vistas and the pattern of development are also important considerations.

Article 4 directions

Some unlisted buildings of particular character within conservation areas may be considered worthy or further protection from unsympathetic alterations and development. This may be done by removing further permitted development rights by making Article 4 directions. These apply to individual properties and the permitted development rights removed will depend on the particular circumstances of each affected property.

The Borough Council may wish in future, to make Article 4 directions in conservation areas to strengthen the character and appearance of existing conservation areas. When Article 4 directions are to be proposed the Borough Council will first consult fully with all affected property owners.

Planning permission will be required for any external alterations for which permitted development rights have been removed via an Article 4 direction.

Designated conservation areas

Conservation area appraisals

Local planning authorities are required to produce proposals for the protection and enhancement of each of their conservation areas. This is normally in the form of a character appraisal followed by the production of an action or management plan.

Bury Council commenced a programme of such work for its 12 conservation areas in 2002. The whole process involves an in-depth study of each area and consultation with the local community, together with the production of reports and consideration by Local Area Partnerships and the Council.

Conservation area enquiry

Please use this form for any general enquiries relating to conservation areas:

Please note: this is not to be used for obtaining specific pre-planning application advice on a site or property in a conservation area, for which you would need to formally apply and a fee would be payable.