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Conservation areas

Frequently asked questions

Under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, the local planning authority have a statutory duty to designate and manage conservation areas.

Conservation areas are defined as an area of special architectural or historic interest where the original appearance is preserved or enhanced. Most of Wiltshire's conservation areas are made up of historic parts of towns and villages with some others including special landscapes such as the canal corridor at Wilcot. 

Most conservation areas have a high concentration of historic buildings, many of which are listed. The character of a conservation area is not defined by these buildings alone, the setting, location, features and open spaces also have a large part to play. Good partnership working between relevant authorities is required to protect the local character and positively reinforce change. 

Did you know? 

Wiltshire has over 225 conservation areas with public opinion typically in favour of the protecting the familiar and valued local scene. Maintaining the character of conservation areas often helps to sustain or increase the value of a property. 


You can check if your property is in a conservation area using our online mapping system and local plan maps.


Planning controls are more restrictive within conservation areas. It may be necessary to apply for planning permission for some building works that would normally be considered for permitted development. This includes restrictions on: 

  • the size of some extensions and garden buildings
  • additions and alterations to roofs, including dormers
  • cladding the outside of buildings
  • satellite dishes in prominent positions 
  • most hoardings
  • illuminated advertisements

The exact rules are complex so it is always best to seek advice from a professional or the local planning authority at: 

Tel: 0300 456 0114
Email: developmentmanagement@wiltshire.gov.uk


Consent will be required to demolish most buildings and some structures in conservation areas. This also applies to demolishing an existing structure to replace with a replica. To gain consent for demolition, please complete and submit the application in the sidebar. 

Demolition where consent is required and has not been obtained, is a criminal offence and liable to prosecution. 


Small improvements like replacing windows or stained hardwood doors (which wouldn't normally require permission for unlisted domestic buildings) can spoil the character of historic streets. Where unlisted buildings define the character of a street, the local planning authority will consider making an Article 4(2) Direction which would bring some forms of 'permitted development' under planning control. It is always worth checking with the local authority at the contact details below whether consent is required. 

Tel: 0300 456 0114
Email: developmentmanagement@wiltshire.gov.uk


Additional regulations apply to most trees growing within conservation areas. Anyone wanting to fell or prune a tree or carry out other work which could damage a tree must inform the local planning authority at least six weeks in advance. 

During this time the team will consult the local town or parish council and if necessary, serve a Tree Preservation Order. For more information please visit the trees and hedges section.

Tel: 0300 456 0114
Email: developmentmanagement@wiltshire.gov.uk



Government legislation requires that special attention is given to conservation areas and their enhancement. The local planning authority will apply special criteria when assessing planning applications in these areas. 

All planning applications affecting conservation areas are advertised so the local community can comment on any new development applications. Where large scale development is proposed, a wide range of consultations will be undertaken and English Heritage will be notified. 

In most cases, applications with detailed drawings of the development and outline planning applications will be accepted. To judge the proposal it is important that your application shows how proposed development will relate to neighboring buildings.

Village conservation is not about preventing change but ensuring any proposed changes reinforce an areas established character and appearance. Proposals for new buildings, extensions or alterations to existing buildings and changes of use will be considered carefully and expected to meet a high standard of design. The local planning authority will also consider any published conservation area appraisals and management proposals for the locality.


These are plans prepared and kept up-to-date as a record of an area's special architectural or historic interest. They set out how the area or place has evolved and identify the key features of it character that have helped to justify its designation as a conservation area. 

A clear plan helps to reduce uncertainty for owners when investment or development in the area is being considered. Copies of our conservation area appraisals are available to view at the council offices in County Hall, Trowbridge or to download from this page. 


The designation of a conservation areas requires that the planning authority should pay special attention to preserving and enhancing the character and appearance of the conservation area.

The planning authority is required to create and review management proposals for conservation areas. Proposals will be based on the conservation area appraisal and the special features it identifies.


Article 4 directions

Most residential properties have permitted development rights which allow property owners to make minor alterations. A range of works to normal dwelling houses are usually allowed through a planning permission blanket called the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) 1995. This means some areas are vulnerable to uncontrolled changes. Even a succession of small changes can have a detrimental impact on a conservation areas appearance and character. 

Following a survey of the state of England's conservation areas, English Heritage have advised that local authorities should ensure adequate planning control is in place using Article 4 directions. This guidance is reinforced in the government's Planning Policy Statement in relation to the historic environment (PPS5).

Where there is firm evidence that permitted development is damaging the character or appearance of a conservation area, or is likely to, the planning authority will consider making an Article 4(2) direction to bring specific changes and alterations under control. The homeowner will then require planning permission for any of the changes outlined in the direction although the application fee is waived.

Article 4(1) directions can be made for areas outside of conservation areas or for different classes of buildings within conservation areas. An amendment to the GPDO in 2010 removed the requirement for the Secretary of State to approve all Article 4(1) directions, making their implementation much simpler. The amendment also requires that these directions are made subject to public consultation (except for certain types that can be made immediately) and requires site notices to be made for all types of directions.

Buildings at Risk (BAR)

A Building at Risk (BAR) is a building that is known to be at risk through neglect or decay. In 1998, English Heritage created a ‘National buildings at risk strategy' and published a national register of buildings at risk covering all grade I and II* listed buildings and ancient scheduled monuments. This register was combined with the register for London to create English Heritage's ‘Heritage at Risk Register' which provides a more holistic view of the historic environment. The register now also includes conservation areas, parks and gardens, battlefields, shipwrecks and places of worship.

For more information and to search the register, please visit Heritage at Risk.

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Last updated: 2 June 2020 | Last reviewed: 2 June 2020