Living in a conservation area and wanting to modify your home in order to use renewable or to conserve energy can be very frustrating at times. However there is a general misconception that living in any conservation area means that there are certain things you are not allowed to do.
This is absolutely not the case. What it does mean is that very often there are certain things that you must apply for planning permission in order to carry out that you wouldn’t normally. Luckily times are changing, and even the planning department seems be aware of the need for sustainability.
However there are some conservation areas that are governed by a freeholder, notably the Uplands Estate and Ethelburt Avenue. These were houses built by the architect Herbert Collins. Most(all?) properties in these areas are leased under a covenant that allows the freeholder to actually prohibit certain works from being carried out.
The big issues
In conservation areas the big issues seem to be solar panels and replacement windows. The need for planning applications mostly arises for installations on the front of the property (or front roof elevation for solar panels). Unless the house is on a corner plot, you are usually OK to go ahead with window replacements or panels on the side, however we do advise you to check with SCC to determine whether there is a specific type of Article 4 applying to your that might say otherwise. You can also check on Planning Portal whether what you want to do fits in with the national regulations that still apply whether in a conservation area or not. These regulations apply to position and height of panels, however any reputable installer will know about these.
Any application in a conservation area should be accompanied by a heritage statement. This can be in the form of a letter or brief outline saying why what you want to do is appropriate for your conservation area and would generally include design, materials, access etc. However it can also be used to explain any benefits and environmental improvements. We cannot guarantee anything, but it makes sense to let the panning department know how your plans fit in with sustainability and the council’s net zero target. At the very least, it can’t do any harm and may well help your case.
Retrofit Southampton intends to lobby both conservation area freeholders and SCC to make their terms and regulations more pragmatic in the light of global climate change and energy crisis. Will Southampton common have to burn down or Westquay be submerged before they sit cup ant take notice?