Research project – National Planning Policy implementation in Conservation Areas

This is a request for help from civic societies in membership of Civic Voice.

The National Trust, supported by Historic England, is undertaking a review to find out how planning decisions in Conservation Areas are performing against national planning policy. It will analyse a series of planning applications, appeals and Inspectors’ reports into Local Plans since 2012 where heritage interests have been treated either particularly poorly or particularly well. The work will be carried out by Green Balance which has worked on previous research exercises for both organisations and for Civic Voice.

The project will result in a report explaining the steps which should be followed by applicants for planning permission and by local planning authorities in line with national planning policy when development proposals are put forward in Conservation Areas. Case studies will illustrate a range of challenges which can arise. There will also be a one-page step-by-step guide as an aide memoire to help all parties assess whether Conservation Area protections are being properly applied.

The project is expected to identify the benefits and limitations of the National Planning Policy Framework as it has been applied to Conservation Areas since 2012, as well as providing practical guidance on how to protect Conservation Areas. We are hoping that you will be able to suggest cases which would contribute to this. It would be really helpful if you could indicate cases of some significance which you have found particularly annoying for some reason or particularly rewarding (some brief detail as to why would be helpful).

Please note:
(a) the case must have been finally decided (e.g. application decided and not appealed, any appeal determined, and period for Judicial Review passed).
(b) the case must be centred on the conservation area designation (there may also have been impacts on the settings of listed buildings, scheduled monuments, a registered park and garden, a World Heritage Site, etc. but these must be wholly subsidiary to decisions);
(c) planning applications outside Conservation Areas but affecting their settings should be excluded, unless the impacts are of exceptional importance;
(d) this project is only about development proposals, so please exclude:
– proposals to designate Conservation Areas;
– issues relating to the management of Conservation Areas;
– issues relating to Conservation Area Appraisals.

We would be pleased to hear of cases where, for example, a number of the following apply:
– the steps in the NPPF were followed particularly well or particularly poorly;
– the NPPF steps were correctly followed but conservation areas still suffered;
– development plan policies on conservation areas were especially valuable in shaping the development of an area and/or affecting planning decisions there;
– the impact of Conservation Officers (or their absence) was significant in the decision;
– applicants identified the significance of the conservation area and the impact of the proposal on that significance, either well or hardly at all;
– the local authority Conservation Officer took the following steps, or failed to do so:
 * identified well the significance of the CA and the proposal’s impact upon this;
 * identified accurately the likely level of harm to the significance of the CA;
 * made a clear recommendation which gave appropriate weight to the CA;
– the local authority case officer took the following steps, or failed to do so:
 * identified well the significance of the CA and the proposal’s impact upon this;
 * identified accurately the likely level of harm to the significance of the CA;
 * made a clear recommendation which gave appropriate weight to the CA;
– the applicant, the local authority conservation officer or the case officer made efforts to avoid or minimise harm to the conservation area;
– harm to the conservation area was weighed by the case officer against the public benefits of the proposal, or this was not done;
– clear and convincing justification for any harm to the conservation area was provided if the case officer recommended that the benefits of a proposal outweighed the heritage interest, or this was not done;
– councillors rejected the heritage advice received, and their reasons for this;
– Article 4 Directions stopped the significant erosion of local character in conservation areas, or failed to do so.

In addition to experience with planning applications, we would like to hear of cases where development allocations adversely affecting Conservation Areas were included in Local Plans.

For the cases you are able to supply, we would be grateful for:
– the name of the local planning authority concerned;
– the planning application case number (and appeal reference no. if appropriate);
– a few sentences on why this would be a good case study.

Please notify your planning application and appeal cases by 31st August 2018.

Please submit your examples to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and they will be passed onto the Researcher who will be in touch to discuss further.