Conservation Area status and its implications
Conservation Area status places a statutory duty on local planning authorities to pay special attention to preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of conservation areas while undertaking their planning duties. Such designation essentially controls the demolition of unlisted buildings over a certain size and works to protect trees, restricts permitted development rights on dwelling houses and tightens regulations on advertising.
Reading’s Conservation Areas
Reading has 15 Conservation Areas, each is supported by a Conservation Area Character Appraisal which identifies the attributes of each area in order to aid the protection of an area’s ‘the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’. Appraisals are used by Planning Officers in their consideration of Planning Applications.
Reading Borough Council’s website on Conservation areas may reached by the following link; www.reading.gov.uk/article/8056/Conservation-areas
The Conservation Area Character Appraisals can be accessed in a single document held on Reading Borough Council’s website Information about all CAs. It is however not user friendly.
The CAAC has therefore below listed the individual areas and provided:
- mini summaries which members of the CAAC have prepared of most of the areas (Horncastle and Routh Lane await volunteers to take them forward).
- the full CA Appraisal extracted from the single RBC document.
Horncastle; Full Appraisal (HC)
Routh Lane – Tilehurst- work in progress; Full Appraisal (RL)
The Russell St/ Castle Hill CA Appraisal provided on Reading Borough Council’s website only shows the boundary of the CA approved in 2005, exceptionally for Reading CA Appraisals it fails to show any of the features of the CA. At the time of the re-appraisal (2004) Reading Civic Soc were provided with copies of the maps completed by the consultants marked up to show; Focal Buildings, Listed Buildings, Buildings of Townscape Merit, Important views and the 4 Character Areas. A map of the CA with these features marked clearly is now included in the Full Appraisal on this site, it remains a task to get RBC to update their website accordingly.
The process of updating CA Character Appraisals
The appraisals currently in place were completed in the main by consultants. They should be renewed every 5 years to ensure that they reflect the up to date situation and are continuing to do the job they are designed for – to protect areas ‘the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’. Many however are out of date, or soon will be. Whilst the council does not have the resources to commission consultants to carry out the updates it is felt that updates carried out by volunteers who know, and care about, the areas undertaking a bottom up review will be far more powerful.
Members of the CAAC are gradually undertaking this work. Russell Street/ Castle Hill and St Peters (Caversham) are the first areas being addressed with that for Market Place/ London Street having commenced in April 2017. The consultation process for the Russell St/ Castle Hill update took a third step on 9th April when the Draft CA Appraisal Update was issued along with a survey for members of the public to complete, by 15 May please, details and the survey may be reached via the BSANA website; BSANA- Conservation Area Update
Conservation Area Advisory Committee
In 2016 the Conservation Area Advisory Committee was established. Its first aim is to work to update the existing Conservation Area Appraisals. Further information is HERE.