Conservation areas are defined under the legislation as "areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance" and are designated by Local Planning Authorities. If you are unsure whether you live in a Conservation Area it is wise to check with the Local Planning Authority before commencing any work which may elsewhere not require planning permission, failure to do so may lead to you facing enforcement action.
The Council has 52 conservation areas. You can see all the conservation area maps and appraisals using the links on the right of this page.
You can also use the Somerset Historic Environment Record website to view conservation areas.
Living in conservation area
If you live in, or run a business from a conservation area you may need our written consent before making changes which in other areas you may not have need to get permission for - such as putting in new windows, putting up satellite dishes and solar panels, adding conservatories or extensions, demolishing any buildings or structures (including outbuildings, gates, fences, railings, walls), laying paving or building walls.
The conservation area is defined on a map and there may be an Appraisal with it which tells you the story of the area and its special character and interest. We may also have changed the alterations that need permission by making Article 4 Directions. Article 4 Directions can be applied across all or part of a conservation area. We advise you to get in touch with us before starting any work.
These conservation area maps and appraisals are used in making decisions on works in conservation areas, planning applications and to guide local planning policies.
Works in a conservation area
Local Planning Authorities will need detailed plans and drawings of proposed works in the conservation area. A description of how the conservation area will be affected is also required. The level of detail within the description should be sufficient to understand the potential impact of the proposal on the conservation area. This description should be entitled as a ‘Heritage Statement’ and should be submitted for all developments in a conservation area. Guidance on the preparation of a Heritage Statement.
Special regard should be had for matters such as scale, height, form, massing, respect for the traditional pattern of frontages, vertical or horizontal emphasis, the scale and spacing of window openings and the nature and quality of materials.
There is a general presumption in favour of retaining buildings that make a positive contribution to the character or appearance of a conservation area. Conversely, the demolition of a building that makes a negative contribution to the area may be welcomed where it offers the opportunity to enhance the character of the area.
The easiest and recommended way to apply for demolition in a conservation area is to apply for planning permission online. You need to go to the Planning Portal. Applications submitted without using the Portal will take longer to process.
If you are thinking of cutting down a tree or doing any pruning you must let us know 6 weeks in advance. You can do this using the application for tree works form. This gives us time to see how important the tree is in the conservation area and decide if we are going to make a tree preservation order.
We advise you to get in touch with us before starting any work.
We have powers to preserve buildings that make a particularly positive contribution to a conservation area. Where such a building is unoccupied, and where works appear urgently necessary to preserve the character of the conservation area, the Secretary of State may direct that the Local Authority may undertake urgent works to the building under Section 54 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.