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Home > Planning > Heritage > Living in a Conservation Area

Living in a Conservation Area

What is a Conservation Area?

A conservation area is defined as ‘an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’. Usually this constitutes the ’historic core’ of a settlement and will probably itself contain a number of listed buildings, which have their own individual protection. The majority of buildings within a conservation area may be unlisted, but are nevertheless important as they can provide the setting for the listed buildings, enclose interesting spaces or form an identifiable group in their own right.

Babergh Mid Suffolk District Council has 60 Conservation Areas in total, for which there are Conservation Area Appraisals adopted by the Council.

What makes a Conservation Area?

It could be the number of listed buildings there, but also derives from other special characteristics, which can include:
  • The way in which the buildings are grouped, in clusters, around greens or enclosing squares or market places, or in rows which are either formal or of an interesting mix of types or styles;
  • The variety or special unity of the buildings, of which only some, or even none are listed;
  • The spaces themselves, such as winding streets, green islands, or streets that focus at one or both ends on characterful buildings (these may be impressive listed structures such as a church, or humble unlisted workshops or walls of brick and flint);
  • Street furniture, such as pumps, railings, sign posts and paving materials from formal York stone slabs to simple gravel, cobbles or other pleasing textures;
  • Soft landscaping, which can act as a foil for the buildings or become focal points in their own right (these range from mighty oak trees down to grass verges, hedges or formal gardens).

What does it mean to live in a Conservation Area?

While living in a Conservation Area means that a property owner is subject to more planning restrictions than elsewhere, the status given to the area is a recognition of this special character and is thus something to take a pride and an interest in. Even if your building is not individually listed as being of special historic or architectural interest, it may have many interesting features such as traditional materials or local building details, or it will be part of a group of buildings which together have a special visual quality. It will be rewarding, both visually and financially, to take extra care over any alterations, changes in roof or walling materials, doors or windows, and even colour schemes, with such buildings. Remember that once an interesting feature is lost it may be impossible or very expensive to recreate it.

Check to see if your property is located within a Conservation Area using our interactive map.

Article 4(2) Directions

Permitted development rights may be removed by the Council if it applies for 'Article 4(2) Directions' to control additional minor works, such as door or window replacements, porches and other small extensions. The consequence of removing these rights is that planning permission is needed to carry out these works, however such applications are free. There are two Conservation Areas in Babergh and Mid Suffolk where Article 4(2) Directions apply: Felsham and Glemsford.

Permitted development rights can also be removed by the conditions of a planning permission.  

Trees in Conservation Areas

Conservation area status provides trees within the designated Conservation Area special protection. Trees are defined with reference to a minimum diameter of 75mm (3") at a point of 1.5m (5") above the ground. If you propose to carry out any works to trees within a Conservation Area, you will need to provide the Council 6 weeks notice to consider whether or not to make the tree(s) the subject of a Tree Preservation Order. 

For more information, visit the tree pages of our website, or view our interactive map to find Trees within Conservation Areas with Tree Preservation Orders.