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Conservation areas

The local planning authority have a statutory duty to designate and manage conservation areas under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (opens new window).

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.

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 (opens new window). 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 (opens new window).

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 (opens new window).

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