Our conservation areas span a huge area – roughly 35 miles’ worth of roads. Whilst part of our role is to monitor the conservation areas for illegal alterations, we cannot hope to spot everything. You can help us by keeping an eye on alterations to your neighbourhood.
Typically when we pick up on a breach, we can look on Google Streetview to find whether the breach has occurred within the past five years. If so, we pass on the breach to the enforcement team in Camden, who then pursue enforcement against the offender, which can include legal action.
However we have to notice breaches in the first place. Whilst each of the committee members can keep a close eye on their local area, there are plenty of areas which we rarely visit. However each of those areas is home to individuals, who will hopefully notice breaches much more quickly than we can.
We encourage you to keep an eye on your area, and if you notice any changes that you suspect are illegal, to notify us. If we pass on a breach to Camden, it is more likely to receive immediate attention than if a member of the public does.
The question then is: what is a breach?
Generally speaking, anything which alters the appearance of a conservation area requires planning permission. When planning permission is applied for, a notice will go up in the area – usually a laminated yellow side of A4. If the appearance of a building is changing, or has changed, and you have not noticed any permission documents, there most likely has been a breach.
A common thing to keep an eye out for is shopfront changes. Many people move to London to set up businesses, and after moving into a commercial premises start modifying the appearance of a shop at will. Generally this is not permitted. Usual offenders are corner shops, cafés, tourist shops, and tech repair shops.
Another thing to keep an eye out for is replacement of windows and doors. Generally this will require planning permission. If windows/doors are replaced with PVC this is almost certainly a breach.
If in doubt you can always contact us and we can clarify with the enforcement team.
Contact Owen Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org.