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Conservation areas

There are 93 conservation areas within towns and villages in County Durham. These are areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character and appearance of which should be preserved or enhanced.

Planning controls

Additional planning controls apply in conservation areas. These include controls over the demolition of buildings as well as increased controls over minor developments such as cladding, dormer windows, satellite dishes, masts and antennae and provisions for the protection of trees.

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.

  • Works to extend buildings, clad external walls, alter a roof, insert dormer windows or put up satellite dishes.
  • The demolition of almost any building.
  • Work to trees including felling, topping and lopping.
  • The display of advertisements which may have a significant visual impact.

In some conservation areas, there are further limits as to the type of development that can be carried out without the need to apply for permission. In these areas, Article 4 Directions apply. This means extra provisions are in place to protect special features such as windows and doors. If your property is in a conservation area you can contact the conservation section to find out if it is affected by an Article 4 Direction.

We have the power to create conservation areas. However, it must develop appropriate planning policies to protect and enhance the area's character and formulate and publish proposals for its preservation and enhancement.

Need advice?

If you think that you may need planning permission or listed building consent, we offer a pre-application service which offers professional advice on the likely acceptability of development proposals, including whether planning permission is required or not and general advice as necessary. Our pre-application service will help you find out if your proposal is likely to be acceptable without the expense of making a formal application. If we feel we could not support a subsequent application, we will tell you why and where possible outline any solutions or recommendations to overcome our concerns.

For all other enquiries regarding Conservation Areas or Listed Buildings please contact the Contact Design and conservation for further advice.

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