The North East is a wonderful place to live. The North Pennines and Northumberland National Park include some of the most stunning countryside England has to offer. The sweeping bays of our castle-studded coastlines are unmatched anywhere.
In terms of planning applications, the areas mentioned above have a protected status under National Park and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) legislation. To this list we can add another category with enhanced levels of protection: Conservation Areas.
Conservation Areas were first introduced in this country in the Civic Amenities Act of 1967. Usually, but not exclusively, they are found within urban or village environments and are designated in order to preserve and enhance areas with special architectural or historical interest. Since 1967, over 8,000 Conservation Areas have been created throughout the country. In our region, there are 69 Conservation Areas in Northumberland and 93 in County Durham.
Conservation Areas are largely exactly where you expect to find them. The centre of Durham holds the designation as does most of the centre of Hexham and they are, of course, a good thing. Preservation of our heritage for future generations is of paramount importance but as with National Parks and AONBs, planning applications for work that falls within Conservation Areas are subject to additional levels of scrutiny. As stated on Durham County Council’s website, ‘In conservation areas, you must get permission from us before you can make certain changes that would not normally require permission elsewhere. As a general guide, the following works require permission. However, you are advised to contact us for specific guidance relating to your proposals.