Permission for development in conservation areas

As with land and buildings outside conservation areas, planning permission is needed for any works which will change the use of land or a building, or significantly alter the outside of a building. In conservation areas, however, these planning controls are extended to give greater protection.

Restrictions on development

In a conservation area, planning permission is required for work that would ordinarily constitute permitted development. This includes:

  • exterior cladding
  • side extensions, or the construction of any other building or structure to the side of the house
  • rear extensions of more than one storey
  • roof extensions, including insertion of dormer windows
  • the installation, alteration or replacement of a chimney, flue or soil and vent pipe visible from the highway
  • erection of an aerial or satellite dish facing the highway
  • erection of solar panels on roofs or walls facing the highway
  • limits on the size of domestic and industrial extensions.

The local authority may also selectively restrict specific development fronting a highway or open space through an Article 4 Direction.


A  conservation area consent must be obtained from the planning authority for the demolition of most walls, buildings or structures within the area.

A separate listed building consent is required for the demolition or alteration of a listed building (inside or out), or structures within the curtilage of a listed building.

Conservation areas also contain buildings identified as locally important ("local list" buildings). While they do not enjoy the same protection as those on the statutory list, it is expected that particular care be taken with these buildings and there will be a presumption against demolition.


Generally repairs do not need planning permission unless they include alterations which significantly change the external appearance of the building or structure. The essence of repair is that it is carried out on a 'like for like' basis, matching materials and details. Where an unoccupied building is not being properly preserved, urgent works can be carried out for the preservation of that building by the local authority.

Consent for building work may also be required under the Buiding Regulations, particularly for structural alterations.

Design of new development

New development must meet a very high standard of design in order to make a positive contribution to the character of the area. In view of this the Council can require additional information in support of any planning application showing how the proposal will relate to its surroundings. This could include the submission of elevations of adjacent buildings, full details of the proposal and examples of materials and colours. Usually only a fully detailed planning application will be considered. This should be accompanied by a design statement.


Regretfully, Northampton Borough Council is currently unable to offer grant aid for repairs to historic buildings.


Trees usually make an important contribution to the character of a conservation area. If you wish to prune or cut down trees in a conservation area, you have to give the Council six weeks notice of the intended work, using the National Standard 1App Form. The work may not start during that period without permission. If you do proceed, you could be prosecuted, fined, and have to plant a replacement tree.

  • Application for work to protected trees

Permission is not needed to cut down or prune trees smaller than 7.5cm in diameter (measured at 1.5m above the ground) unless they are already included in a Tree Preservation Order, in which case consent would be required.

Where a tree is protected and you think that it needs attention, the council's Arboricultural Officer will inspect and advise on what (if anything) needs to be done. This advice is provided free of charge and will form the basis of any consent that you need. To arrange for an inspection, contact the Arboricultural Officer: telephone 01604 837789 or use the contact form below.

Contact us

Planning Policy & Heritage
The Guildhall
St Giles Square

Tel: 01604 837637
or use the contact form below.

Date last reviewed: 08/09/2011

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