Protecting the landscape
"The protection of listed buildings is long established and well understood. However, our landscape is also blanketed with myriad of designations which require careful navigation when undertaking anything from felling a tree to restoring an historic park."
The protection of listed buildings is long established and well understood. However, our landscape is also blanketed with myriad of designations which require careful navigation when undertaking anything from felling a tree to restoring an historic park. It is therefore crucial to understand what designations apply to your land and what permissions are required before undertaking work. There are numerous landscape designations which are material considerations in planning applications (Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks etc) as well as day-to-day management (Nitrate Vulnerable Zones, Sites of Special Scientific Interest etc), however, the focus of this article is where specific permission is required. It is not always known that penalties (financial or criminal) will be enforced if they are ignored.
Registered parks and gardens
A Registered park and garden is property specific and equivalent to listed building status. They apply to a defined area that will, most typically, include the historic parkland area (known as the “designed landscape”) around private houses; even if that area is no longer obviously parkland or a garden. As with buildings there are grades of listing (I, II* and II) which provide progressive levels of protection. Your local Conservation Officer will automatically be consulted on any application requiring planning permission and so involving them at an early stage will give you the best chance of achieving a positive result. Planning applications involving Grade I or Grade II* listed parks and gardens will automatically be passed to Historic England for comment.
The purpose of a Conservation Area is to protect an area of special architectural or historic interest. Home owners within Conservation Areas can be prevented from, for example, installing double glazing or erecting satellite dishes as well as building or demolishing low walls, all of which would not usually require planning permission, but might when situated in a Conservation Area. Any pruning or felling of trees greater than 75mm in diameter within Conservation Areas must be approved by your local council, who then have six weeks to decide if the trees should be protected by a Tree Preservation Order.
Tree Preservation Orders
Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) protect individual trees, groups of trees or even entire woodlands and require anyone wishing to cut down, top, lop or uproot trees subject to a TPO to obtain permission from your local council’s Tree Officer. To do so without permission can result in an unlimited fine and having to replace the affected tree.
Scheduling protects nationally important monuments and archaeological remains and any works that will affect a scheduled monument will require Scheduled Monument Consent. Your local Historic England office should be consulted before undertaking any works on Scheduled Monuments, however, some “Class Consents” exist which do permit certain activities (principally agricultural and horticultural). To carry out works without consent is a criminal offence which could result in a fine or imprisonment and so it is vital to understand what is permissible.
Ignorance is never a defence and so the message is be aware of any designations that apply to your land. This can be found on local council websites and on www.magic.gov.uk. Once this has been established you can then ascertain if your proposal requires permission and then follow the necessary procedure.