FAQs for Keswick Conservation Area Consultation

What is a Conservation Area?

A Conservation Area has special architectural and/or historical interest, and where we want to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the area.

What is the purpose of the Keswick Conservation Area?

The purpose of the Keswick Conservation Area is to promote and support development that is in keeping with, or enhances the special character of Keswick. It is not intended to stifle change within the proposed boundary, it is intended to help positively manage change.

Who decides where Conservation Areas are or that a Conservation Area should be changed?

We are responsible for the designation and review of Conservation Areas. This is a statutory requirement under Section 69 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, and we are the planning authority for the Lake District National Park.

Why has my property inside the amended boundary?

The Conservation Area boundary has been amended to include areas of the town which are considered to contribute to the special character and appearance of Keswick. The character of Keswick is inextricably linked to its history and historical development and the proposed boundary takes account of this.

The boundary also covers important areas of open space and groups of trees which add to the setting of many buildings and views into and out of the Conservation Area. These areas also provide a visual link to the surrounding countryside, which is a significant part of the character of Keswick. 

The proposed extensions to the conservation area include Crow Park, Hope Park, Upper Fitz Park, the network of Victorian Terraced Streets to the east of the Market Place, and Manor Park, a 20th century residential street. These areas all contribute to the special interest of Keswick and have high architectural, historical or landscape interest.

Since it became a conservation area in 1981, our understanding and appreciation of the historic environment has developed so that later periods in Keswick’s history and development are now thought to be of special interest. Likewise, areas of open space are highly valued for their contribution to the setting of the town and associations with the conservation movement.

The Victorian Terraces were identified as being of high architectural and group value in the 1990s and needed some greater protection.

The Conservation Area Appraisal sets out the reasons for the proposed boundary changes by analysing the historic interest and character of each area.

How will living in a conservation area affect me?

Some extra controls and considerations apply in conservation areas. Alterations and development within a conservation area should conserve or enhance the special character of that area. Planning applications should include a heritage statement which sets out how the proposed work conserves or enhances the conservation area. If you want to demolish a building in a conservation area you will need Planning Permission.

Permitted development rights are slightly different in conservation areas compared to other areas. This means that you may need to make planning applications for some forms of development which would not need an application outside conservation areas. Permitted Development Rights which are considered to have the potential to cause harm to the historic character of conservation areas can be controlled through Article 4 Directions.

Work to trees is also controlled in a conservation area and in cases involving all but the smallest of trees you must notify the authority six weeks before work begins, this allows us to consider whether a Tree Preservation Order should be made on the tree, or if work can continue. Undertaking unauthorised tree works in a conservation area is an offence and risks prosecution.

What is an Article 4 Direction?

An Article 4 Direction is a legal direction made under The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 to allow Planning Authorities, to gain additional control over minor developments and alterations to non-listed buildings, by requiring a formal planning application. These minor developments and alterations would normally be permitted development in that they could be carried out without a planning application.

Why is the LDNPA considering the amending the Article 4 Direction in Keswick?

There is an existing Article 4 Direction covering dwellings within parts of Keswick. This Article 4 Direction has been successful in helping to retain original features and ensure that replacement windows and doors do not harm the historic character of the area. 

Since the existing Article 4 Direction came into force the scale of permitted development rights has increased which means that many original and traditional features which are locally distinctive are not covered by the current direction.

We have seen an increase in small-scale, piecemeal change and the replacement of original features can cause the greatest damage to the character and appearance of a Conservation Area. The replacement of traditional materials with inappropriate alternatives or the removal of original features may seem to have insignificant effect but it is the cumulative effect of these small alterations that gradually erodes the special character of an area. 

Following a detailed assessment of the area we are considering extending the Article 4 Direction to cover the whole of the revised Conservation Area and increasing the number of permitted development rights brought within control.

For residential properties this would include:

  • Windows and doors (covered by the existing direction)
  • Extensions (covered by the existing direction)
  • Boundary walls/fences (covered by the existing direction)
  • Roofs 
  • Chimney, flues, pipes 
  • Buildings incidental to a dwelling house (outbuildings) 
  • Hard surfaces/hard standings 
  • External Painting 
  • Renewable energy, microgeneration solar PV or solar thermal equipment and wind turbines

For commercial properties this would include:

  • The erection of, or alteration to any wall, gate, fence or other means of enclosure 
  • The installation, alteration or replacement of solar photo-voltaic or solar thermal equipment and wind turbines 
  • The painting or repainting of any exterior stone, brickwork or render

So what does this mean for me?

If the proposed Article 4 Direction is supported and approved by the National Park’s Park Strategy and Vision Committee then you will be required to submit a planning application if you intend to make any of the changes detailed above. This has cost and time implications for applicants in order to prepare and submit the application form, current and proposed plans, a heritage statement and the correct application fee.

Will I always need to gain formal planning permission to alter my property?

No, if you are carrying out repairs, on a like for like basis, in that the materials, proportions, finish, colour etc remain exactly the same then you will not need to submit a planning application.

If you are replacing features such as doors and windows, it is likely a planning application will need to be submitted, unless the replacement doors and windows are of the same materials, design, proportions, opening method, glazing detail and colour/finish as the existing.  

We are also considering introducing a Local Development Order which would remove the need to apply for planning permission for alterations listed in the Article 4 Direction if the proposed alterations follow agreed guidelines.

What is a Local Development Order?

Local Development Orders are made by local planning authorities and give a grant of planning permission to specific types of development within a defined area. They streamline the planning process by removing the need for property owners to make a planning application. They create certainty and save time and money for those involved in the planning process.

What would this mean for me?

If the Article 4 Direction and Local Development Order are approved and you wanted to alter the roof of your property for example, you would not need to apply for planning permission if the alterations followed the guidelines laid out in the Local Development Order - this might specify the type of roof covering, ridge tiles, eaves details etc.

If you wanted to make changes which were not in line with the Local Development Order you would need to submit a planning application, prepare the existing/proposed plans, a heritage statement and pay the relevant fee. Alterations which don’t follow the Local Development Order guidelines are less likely to conserve and enhance the character of the conservation area and therefore may be refused.

If I've already replaced the windows and doors in my property, will I need to put the original style back if the Conservation Area extension and Article 4 Direction are approved?

No. The extension of Conservation Area or the introduction of an Article 4 Direction does not require you to reinstate the traditional features and materials of your property.

The Article 4 Direction in effect draws a line under alterations already made and only requires the submission of planning applications for proposed changes from the date the Direction is served on the property.

However, inappropriate alterations carried out without planning permission to properties already covered by the existing article 4 direction may be investigated for breach of planning control.

So what happens now?

If the proposals outlined within the consultation documents are generally supported then a report will be prepared for the Lake District National Park Authority’s Park Strategy and Vision Committee recommending the approval of the boundary amendments, the adoption of the Keswick Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan and the introduction of the Article 4 Direction.

The amendments to the Conservation Area boundary come into effect on the day of approval by the Committee, the Article 4 Direction and Local Development Order will then follow and are subject to further publicity.

The Article 4 Direction and accompanying Local Development Order will be drafted stating the classes of Schedule 2 of the General Permitted Development Order 2015 to be restricted, the proposed wording of the restriction and the properties or land subject to the restriction.

The Article 4 Direction will then be publicised for no less than six weeks. 

The Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) must take into account any representations it receives during the period of publicity when deciding whether or not to confirm the direction. When the direction has been confirmed, the LDNPA must publicise the confirmation and the date when the direction comes into effect and send a copy of the direction to the Secretary of State.