British historic cities are often noted for their amazing architecture and cultural treasures. Property buying in some of the UK’s conservation areas is very much sought-after but it can be a little tricky to navigate the laws and regulations of listed buildings and the likes.
1. What is a conservation area?
What does buying in a conservation area really entails? There are many pros and cons to looking to invest in conservations areas, as they usually are the most attractive neighborhoods in any given city. Historic England defines conservation areas as being there to protect the identified historic and architectural interest of a given place. You can find out if you’re about to invest in a conservation area at your local planning authority (LPA). More than 8000 areas in the UK act under the conservation area legislation, and many of them are also residential areas.
In Edinburgh for instance, all the properties in the Old Town area located in the heart of the Scottish capital, are concerned by the regulations that applying to conservation areas. With its medieval cobbled streets, 17th century stone buildings and an important collection of archeological remains, the Old Town is a very attractive neighborhood with an average buying price of £214,413 per property in 2017.
2. Possible restrictions
Buying in a conservation areas comes with a list of restrictions that varies depending on the historical context and architecture. Typically, it means that any work that is required on a property is limited in some ways. Property owners have to apply for planning permission to the local council for most alterations.
Generally, windows can be replaced but only on a like-for-like basis. Double-glazing is authorized in conservation areas buildings but not in listed properties. Interior alterations do not require planning permissions, unless substantial amounts of building material were to be removed. If you’re looking to invest in a property that needs renovating and requires huge amounts of work, this has to be taken into account prior to buying.
3. Listed buildings
Rules for listed buildings differ slightly depending on the listed building grade: I, II*, II. The majority of listed buildings fall into the II category, while I and II* buildings may be eligible for Heritage grants if they are in need of major and urgent repairs. In a listed building, any building work will require planning permission, unlike properties in a conservation areas where regulations tend to be a little more relaxed.
4 . A selling point
Despite all the restrictions, investing in a listed building or property in a conservation area is a huge selling point for property investors as it definitely increases value. Such properties are very sought-after by people looking for homes which have retained their original period features and premium prices are often reached.