Extending in a Conservation Area

Here at Home Tales, we frequently work complete home renovations and home extensions that reside within conservation areas. Conservation areas were introduced in the late 1960s. There are around 10,000 in the UK today, with 10% residing in Greater London. The purpose of a conservation area is to preserve and enhance the areas special architectural or historic interest. It is absolutely possible to gain planning approval for home modifications within these areas. It does require some sensitive thought to the design and generally some additional information during the planning process. 

Supporting your planning application 

We always submit a Design & Access statement alongside the planning applications of the properties that reside within conservation areas. This is a document that sets out details about the property, the proposal, and how it will impact the surrounding area. Generally, we also include a paragraph about the heritage of the area (a heritage statement) to show the local council we have considered the local impact and how we have addressed it within the proposed design. This statement enables you to add additional detail that you feel might support your application. For example, specific materials you intend to use. Lambeth particularly favours a brick façade, so we typically recommend this if we are extending in Lambeth. If we feel it would be beneficial, we might list other successful planning applications to demonstrate precedent within the local area. Planning applications are all public knowledge, so you can investigate what has been accepted in the surrounding area. 

Does this limit my design options? 

The answer may surprise you. Conservation areas aren’t necessarily trying to restrict modern development. They are simply trying to preserve and enhance the current architectural heritage. If you are building a new structure from scratch (eg. a new home on an empty plot of land), the proposed design will be a key and the assigned case officer will be looking for smart design that enhances the local area. If you are modifying an existing property (eg. adding an extension), then the case officer will be looking for it to be an enhancement of the host property. It shouldn’t dominate or impose on the existing home, it should complement the design. If you have an existing structure, for example a conservatory, a home extension may be a more suitable alternative from the council’s perspective. We frequently apply for planning permission to demolish an existing structure (such as a conservatory) and replace it with a home extension. This generally works in the applicants favour, as you are proposing an improvement to the properties structure and overall appearance. 

In some cases, your design options might be limited. For example, local councils generally want sash windows or like for like wooden replacements if you are intending to replace windows. We are frequently asked to specify the material and colour of the windows or roof tiles on our applications, so it’s not so open and left to choice when you begin your build. Wooden windows are considerably more expensive then PVC windows, so it’s worth factoring this into your budget when planning for your build. 

When it comes to loft conversions, if you are in a conservation area we would generally recommend opting for a mansard dormer design. This pitches the loft at a 70-degree angle (rather than a straight 90-degree angle wall) and local councils generally prefer these types of loft conversion designs as they feel they are less imposing then the full dormer alternatives. 

Can I go for Permitted Development?

In some cases, work can be carried out under Permitted Development, in which case local authority cannot influence it. In conservation areas, Permitted Development rights are limited. For example, you cannot complete a side infill extension, but you may be able to extend to the rear. 

Window replacement is a very grey area in conservation areas. Unless your council have an Article 4 order in place (this seeks to remove specific Permitted Development rights from your area, street of even specific houses), you should be able to use Permitted Development to replace your windows with those of a similar appearance. If there is not an Article 4 order in place, you will need to seek full planning permission. 

We frequently work with homeowners who reside in conservation areas. If you want to discuss your project in more detail, call our friendly team on 0207 043 2378 or email us at hello@hometales.co.uk. We will talk to you about your project and get a better understanding about what it is you would like to do. This will enable us to issue you with a quote. You can also book a consultation online via our online booking portal. Get your slot confirmed within a few minutes. We look forward to hearing from you.  

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