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Conservation Areas

Conservation areas are sites that have been identified as having high historic or architectural interest. There is no standard format and they come in different shapes and sizes. They can be rural, urban and suburban and can include residential, retail and commercial property from different periods.

To find out if a property is in a conservation area, you can search by postcode in our Where I live section. You can do this without having to log in to My Account.

Once you’ve selected the property address, scroll down to My Neighbourhood. This will show any planning restraints on the property.

Important: if your property is in a conservation area, you should also check to see if development is restricted under an Article 4 direction. Find our list of areas covered by article 4 directions in the Lewes district and Eastbourne.

The amount of Permitted Development (work you can do without formal consent) may be reduced in conservation areas. This will also vary between houses and flats and business properties. This means that you will need to apply for planning permission to undertake certain types of work that you normally would not need to.

This includes:

  • demolition of some buildings/walls
  • works to trees
  • any extension to the side of a building
  • two storey extensions to the rear
  • cladding of the exterior
  • any enlargement of the roof
  • ancillary buildings located to the side of a house
  • installation of a chimney/flue/soil vent pipe on the front or side elevation fronting a highway
  • installation of satellite dishes on a chimney, wall or roof slope fronting a highway
  • installation of solar panels or equipment on a wall fronting a highway

The aim is to ensure that development is carefully managed and appropriate for the conservation area. This does not mean that all change is prohibited, or that no development can take place. Rather, it is about making sure that development preserves, and ideally enhances, the look and feel of the area. Works that detract from the overall historic or architectural interest of the area will not be permitted. Read our design and heritage guidance for more information about acceptable changes to buildings within conservation areas.

Find out if you need planning permission.

An article 4 Direction is an additional level of protection designed to preserve the character of conservation areas by further limiting permitted development. It means you will have to apply to undertake work that might normally be exempt. You can find out if you live within an Article 4 area and what this restricts by downloading our Article 4 Direction guides.

You can make an application for Planning Permission through the Planning Portal.

If your property is in a conservation area, your application will need to include a Heritage Statement setting out what work you are looking to undertake, what the effect of that work is on the conservation area and how you have tried to reduce any negative impact arising from that work.

Please provide as much information as possible, including photographs where possible, as this will help us understand what you want to achieve and how you will go about it. A clear and comprehensive heritage statement will avoid the need for follow-up question and will help ensure we process your application as quickly as possible.

A Heritage Statement has to be included for all planning permission applications within a conservation area. The conservation area is considered to be a heritage asset and any external works to a building may have an impact on this. The heritage statement should describe how the works impact a heritage asset (Conservation Area). The impact may be negative, neutral or positive. If you are required to write a heritage statement as part of your application, there is a heritage asset you may be impacting.

We have a template that can be used to write a heritage statement. None of the boxes should be left blank and your application will not be able to be validated until a complete heritage statement has been submitted.

Usually between 6-8 weeks, though this can vary at peak periods. Larger and more complex applications will take longer. Our busiest period for Listed Building Consents tend to be from February/March all the way through to August. This is the period people are thinking about carrying out improvements to their home during the warmer weather and are hoping to get fast responses so they can start. To beat the rush and have your consent ready to implement works in the spring you should try to submit your application before Christmas.

Conservation Drop-in

The Conservation Team run monthly free drop-in sessions from 10am to 12pm to discuss any queries relating to conservation areas or listed buildings.

Eastbourne sessions run on the first Wednesday of the month from the Customer Contact Centre, 1 Grove Road, Eastbourne.

Lewes sessions run on the third Wednesday of the month from the Ground floor reception at Southover House, Lewes.

There is no need to book and the sessions run on a first come, first served basis.

Pre-application advice

Informal advice is available before making a full application by using the pre-application route. This allows ideas and designs to be shared and feedback sought at an early stage. It should help making a stronger full application at the appropriate time though the feedback received at this stage is not binding and cannot guarantee success further down the line. There may be a fee for this service.

Historic England

Historic England provides further support and advice for the residents in conservation areas. They provide useful informational guides on matters such as energy efficiency and maintenance of historic buildings.

There are a number of advisory groups that meet on a regular basis to discuss and comment on development proposals in the area. These include: