A Conservation Area is an area of special architectural or historic interest which is desirable to preserve or enhance.
The Planning Act (NI) 2011 (Section 104) provides Council with the power to designate an area of special architectural or historic interest as a Conservation Area. The designation of a Conservation Area indicates the Council’s positive commitment to these areas and its intention to preserve and enhance the quality of the environment.
Within a Conservation Area there is a legislative requirement to consider in respect of any building or land in the area, the desirability of preserving and, where opportunity exists, enhancing the character of the area.
The designation of each Conservation Area in the past has contributed to the positive enhancement of our built heritage which has resulted in the sympathetic restoration and physical regeneration of many buildings and land within the Council Area which have been designated as Conservation Areas.
There are huge environmental and economic benefits derived from Conservation Area designations, such as tourism and heritage related leisure activities which make them increasingly desirable places to live, work, shop and do business.
Whether a building is listed or not within a Conservation Area, there will always be a presumption in favour of preservation, retention and refurbishment of those buildings and lands with historic features which are identified as important to preserve.
When an opportunity arises special regard must be given to enhancing the area. If the visual quality of each of our Conservation Areas is to be enhanced, this will require careful consideration of design elements, for example in the design of shop fronts and signage.
The emphasis within Conservation Areas is to ensure that any changes strengthen local character, not diminish it. Conservation Areas are protected in several ways:
- Stricter planning controls over the demolition or alteration of unlisted buildings and works to trees;
- A statutory requirement of the Council to consider the impact of any proposed development upon the character or appearance of the area;
- Specific policies and character appraisals of the area which define it special characteristics, and outline how they should be protected;
- Opportunities to become involved; the Council welcomes your involvement in the care of Conservation Areas, through residents’ associations, amenity groups and local history groups, to ensure high standards are maintained.
Further information is provided in the links below.