What exactly is the point of the Wanstead Conservation Area?

Following the [friendly?] taunt that came our way from LoveLoughton.com that the new BBQ Express sign made a mockery of Wanstead’s Conservation Area status, Wansteadium got a-wondering about what exactly the status meant. What powers does it give the council, and what duties does it put on shopkeepers and developers. So we asked Redbridge Council, who decently gave us this response:

Conservation Areas are places with special architectural or historic interest. Designating an area as a Conservation Area is about appreciating its history and character and there are additional responsibilities for the Council in regards to changing the amount and nature of development that can be carried out.

Development in Conservation Areas is more strictly controlled than elsewhere in order to help maintain their character. Some alterations which would normally be ‘permitted development’ will require permission and may not be granted permission at all. A good example is the cladding of the exterior of a property, which may significantly alter the appearance of the building.

Your enquiry seems to focus on shop signage and some forms of shop signage will indeed require a form of planning permission known as “advertisement consent”. The variety of signage that can be erected in a Conservation Area without advertisement consent is more restricted than it is elsewhere but there is still quite a large array of signage that can be installed without this permission.

Therefore legally much of the signage in Wanstead Village Conservation Area is outside the control of the Local Planning Authority (LPA), and the Council is typically only able to exert control over signage where a new shop front is required and the details of signage are included as part of the proposal.

The Council has produced specific design guidance for shop fronts and signage in Conservation Areas and relating to listed buildings, but this can only be applied where planning permission, listed building consent and/or advertisement consent are required. This guidance is available on the Council’s website.

Conservation Areas do not bring any specific rights or duties to traders in the area and it will be for planning officers to ensure that new development which falls within the control of the LPA, meets the legal test of preserving or enhancing the character and appearance of the area in question.

If members of the public have concerns about signage within the Wanstead Village Conservation Area we would encourage them to contact Historic.Conservation@redbridge.gov.uk and officers will look into the matter and take appropriate action.

We think the documents referred to in the statement are here on the Redbridge site. Wansteadium’s well aware that there’s no shortage of well-informed people (ie the Wanstead Society and others) who know this position well. You’re welcome to share your thoughts – either directly to us at wansteadium@gmail.com, or on our new site WansteadTalk.com where there is a page ready for discussion on this topic.