Conservation areas

Conservation Areas are designated by the local planning authority as areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance. These areas are distinguished by their architecture, landscape and history, creating an attractive environment that is often the product of several different eras. They usually contain listed buildings but this is not a prerequisite of designation.

As a local authority we have a duty to protect and manage our assets. We review conservation areas to ensure that places of special architectural interest are being protected. We ensure that these qualities are improved or preserved, when considering proposals for works that require consent. This enables the council to revise the boundaries of existing areas, to designate new areas and de designate if and when it is necessary.

Legislation and strict planning policies allow the council to exercise greater control over certain aspects of development in conservation areas and to insist on the highest quality design. Any development proposals should preserve or enhance the special character of the area. If necessary the Council may compliment this with an article 4 direction.

There are 26 conservation areas in Wirral including Port Sunlight and Hamilton Square which are of national importance.

Many of the areas vary greatly in terms of size, scale and character. In addition there are many other areas which have special character and identity that are being considered for formal designation.

The special interest within a conservation area may be attributed to its historical road layouts, grouping of buildings, street furniture and surfaces, which all add to the appearance and character of an area. Within conservation areas the Council has the power to control demolition, extensions and other alterations.

The local plan currently includes policies relating to most of the borough's designated conservation areas. The areas designated following the adoption of the Unitary Development Plan do not have specific policies. As part of the Local Development Framework process we intend to review all existing policies as well as producing policies for recently adopted areas.

The success of a conservation area depends on the joint commitment of the local authority and those living and working in the conservation area, working to preserve and enhance its character.

Local residents living within conservation areas can help protect its character when considering undertaking repairs or alterations to their properties. Small incremental changes to properties, such as the replacement of original windows or doors, or the use of inappropriate building materials can have a cumulative effect on the character and appearance of individual buildings and upon the area as a whole. Equally, poorly conceived new development or insensitive extensions to older properties can detract from the character of a conservation area.