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Works in a Conservation Area

Conservation area consent was abolished by the ERR Act (1) and replaced with a requirement for planning permission for demolition of a building in a conservation area (1). The circumstances in which such planning permission is required and the consequences of failing to apply for it when it is needed are the same as previously applied under conservation area consent.

A building in a conservation area is not to be demolished without consent of the local planning authority. It is a criminal offence to fail to obtain such consent in the form of planning permission.

Planning permission is only required for relevant demolition, what constitutes demolition for these purposes has been decided by the courts in a case known as 'Shimizu' (2). The difference between works of alteration and works of demolition is an issue of fact in each case, but demolition must amount to the removal of the whole of the building, not just part of it. That said, the removal of the building except the facade would amount to demolition, as would the removal of an entire front garden wall.

Removal of architectural details, making holes in walls to create new windows, or demolishing one wall to allow an extension would not amount to demolition and so would not require permission for demolition. Planning permission generally may still be required for such works, though.

Also expressly excluded are the demolition of the following (3):

(a) any building with a total cubic content not exceeding 115 cubic metres (as ascertained by external measurement) or any part of such a building, other than a pre-1925 tombstone;

(b) any gate, wall, fence or means of enclosure which is less than one metre high where abutting on a highway (including a public footpath or bridleway), waterway or open space, or less than two metres high in any other case;

(c) any building erected since 1 January 1914 and in use, or last used, for the purposes of agriculture or forestry.

Local planning authorities are able to advise on the need for planning permission for relevant demolition in a conservation area.

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