A Conservation Area needs protection against harmful development. Thinking capitalistically, the essential point of development is to maximise the return on a site. Paying regard to the history and heritage of an area doesn’t give any obvious return in profit, and so there is no a priori reason why new development should pay any regard to the special character of an area, or indeed why old buildings aren’t demolished to make way for skyscrapers. Making an analogy, the public do not generally care about whether a website is altered and extended – so long as the updates enhance the website. The idea of a website being listed is absurd. However we as a society value our heritage, and so there is legal protection in place to look after old buildings and places.
Part of that protection is us – the BCAAC. Our role is to protect our conservation areas from harmful development.
From day to day this means all our members are signed up to ‘e-alerts’ which let us know of new planning applications in our conservation areas, of which there are a significant number. It is not unusual to receive up to thirty in a week. We make an individual ‘desk-based’ assessment of planning applications (most are fairly inconsequential), and meet every three weeks to discuss and formulate a response to the most significant. Our CAAC is one of the most in demand in the country – if not the most in demand, given the huge area which we cover and the dynamic nature of Central London. Due to this, we prioritise objecting to harmful development rather than encouraging good development. If your application receives no comment from us, be assured that we have noted it, but didn’t find any significant objection to make.
For more significant development we also engage in further consultation – making site visits, attending meetings, and feeding back to developers our opinions on their plans. When significant development is approved which we judge to cause substantial harm to our conservation areas, we also take legal action.
We also work to spread awareness and appreciation of our heritage, and our work in protecting it – and yours. This website forms a part of that.
Part of our work is to consider and comment on planning applications occurring in our conservation areas. In making comments, we employ a set of general principles.
Part of our work is to keep an eye on our conservation areas and report breaches of planning control.
We have had some notable successes in our work, reigning in harmful schemes and advising on positive development in the area.
The committee is formed of members of the community, including practising architects and planners.