Conservation Area? Isn’t that for ducks?
Go to school, get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids, get rid of kids, move to countryside.
This is roughly the plan many couples have as to how they hope things will turn out in the long term, particularly those that are currently part of the rat race in large metropolises. Most people assume that it would not be until they moved to the countryside that they would have to consider the implications of buying a home in a conservation area. But they’d be wrong.
Some families are finding that the perfect location for their next home is relatively expensive for the size of the house and it’s not in the rolling hills of Bucks but deep in the heart of the town. This could be due to the fact the home is located in an urban conservation area, a tag guaranteed to bump up the price of buying and maintaining houses. Here's why...
So, What is a conservation area?
The official definition is as follows, "any areas of special architectural or historic interest the character or appearance of which it is desirable to protect or enhance".
This comes from Section 69 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, sequel to the initial 1967 Civic Amenities Act. Even though the first conservation areas were only created in 1967 there are now over 9,000 in England in total. It is generally applied to groups of houses rather than 'stand alone' buildings of historic interest as is commonly misunderstood. So when the council look to give an area ‘Conservation area’ status they are looking at the overall character of an area rather than individual homes and buildings.
Where are conservation areas?
The rich architectural history England is so proud of means that conservation areas are just as likely to be in towns as idyllic country villages seen in Midsomer Murders. The unique character of conservation areas will mean they are more desirable to buyers and so prices will reflect this, inflating values by as much as 20%. To some the feeling that you are buying a piece of protected history is worth the extra investment.
What Does it mean in practical terms?
In more ‘day to day’ practical terms the conservation area status means that the look of the area cannot be changed or altered without the permission of the governing body. It is the local authority that will have they say over demolition and alterations to property. And it’s the last part “alterations” that those considering purchasing a home in a conservation area should be most aware of.
When the governing body assesses the area and deems it to require protection they assess everything that makes up its character. This includes trees, open spaces, windows, guttering and roofing. And here is where people need to think of the real implications of owning a home in conservation area. Many of the items on the protected list will require replacing over time so the home owner is unable to google the cheapest local supplier but may well have to find a specialist to fit an exact replica of the previous item. This will be expensive and applies to a surprisingly high number of aspects to property maintenance. Something to think about when reviewing those property websites with a glass of vino.
Images courtesy of sxc.hu