Planning Advice Note PAN 71: Conservation Area Management
Memorandum of Guidance, sect 4.21.Designation of a conservation area should not be regarded principally as a means of increasing control but rather as a commitment to take positive action to safeguard and enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area.
Designation and Review
The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 states that conservation areas "are areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance". Local authorities have a statutory duty to identify and designate such areas.
Special architectural interest can be interpreted broadly. As well as the settings of architectural set pieces and the spaces between buildings, designation can give recognition to groups of individual buildings or characteristic forms of urban development and evolution. Equally, conservation area designation provides scope for special recognition of the best examples of town planning and urban design. Special historic interest relates to areas with a connection to events or themes of historic or cultural significance.
The statutory procedures for designation are well established. Proposals for designation, variation or cancellation must be publicised. The Scottish Ministers also need to be notified. Owners and occupiers of property within a proposed conservation area do not have to be specifically notified and there is no right of appeal against a designation, variation or cancellation. Wherever possible, proposals to designate, cancel or redefine the boundaries of conservation areas should first be subject to public consultation through the local plan process, thus providing opportunity for the views of stakeholders to be taken into account.
Whilst designation is a valuable tool in the protection of important areas, authorities should be careful not to assume that designation alone will secure protection and enhancement. Review of existing areas is required and provides an opportunity to assess the justification for designation, consider the validation of boundaries, identify opportunities for enhancement and set management priorities.