The beauty of conservation projects is to work on buildings that we’re able to redefine their purpose and usage over the centuries. In our conservation architecture projects we worked on listed buildings and properties in conservation areas in several London boroughs, including Kensington and Chelsea, Greenwich and Ealing (Chiswick).
Our partner architects focus on conservation and sustainability with a modern approach. We highlight distinctive features and add architectural value to the building with modern details derived from the original and interpreted for the future generations.
Conservation Architecture specialises in designs for heritage buildings and areas that have historic value for the local communities.
Conservation areas are areas of special architecture and character interest. Listed buildings are individual buildings particularly designated for their historic value to the local community.
houseUP works with Conservation Architecture firms that specialise in designing in line with the strict rules that apply to heritage and listed buildings; our focus is on keeping features and creating new ones that respect and enhance the value and the meaning of the building for the local community.
In Greater London there are more than 1000 conservation areas, with several boroughs where almost all streets and buildings are listed or located inside a conservation area.
In houseUP we partner with specialised Conservation Architecture firms for conservation and heritage projects. The planning process for listed buildings and buildings in designated areas is very involved and needs to include input from specialists, such as heritage consultants, historians and highly skilled conservation builders.
The challenges of designing and building in conservation areas and for listed buildings are both regulatory and technical. Alterations to historic buildings are very delicate, as the original structures are very sensitive to movement, vibrations, additions and modifications.
Our partnership with conservation architects from the planning permission phase allows us to advise on execution and technical challenges. This way the actual building process becomes smoother and defect free, like for this roof development project in the Bedford Park conservation area in Chiswick.
The planning process for buildings in conservation areas and listed buildings is not radically different from a standard planning process.
Usually the planning officers get much more involved in the process and full engagement with the officer is key to a successful application. Our partner conservation architects use their in-depth knowledge of the characteristics of London architecture to ensure great communication with planning officers throughout the process.
When proposing new features and modern additions, the design and access statement becomes a great opportunity to explain the reasons behind the design and the choice of shapes, materials and features.
A great example is the fully glazed rear extension in this end of terrace house in Greenwich.
In houseUP we have a dedicated process in place for conservation and heritage projects:
We always appoint partner architects with experience of conservation projects in the same area or in the same council. Our architects have a vast range of experience with conservation architecture in London.
In preparation for the design, it’s important to know everything about the conservation area and the local character. Understanding the materials used locally, the surrounding properties and the history of the area help create a proposal that preserves and enhances the local character.
Creating drawings for a heritage building requires the perfect mix between the client’s needs and the local authorities’ requirements. With the conservation area appraisal in mind and with feedback from the planning officer and the local community, we create a design respectful of the local history and character and is in line with the local vernacular.
Our conservation architect teams create and submit the planning package, including all plans and elevations, the mandatory design and access statement, heritage report, listed building consent and all other relevant documentation. Often we approach the local authorities through the pre-planning process, where we can have feedback from the planning officers before filing the full application. This increases the success rate of the planning process
Listed buildings are actually included in a list called The National Heritage List for England. In the list you can also find why the building is listed.
For conservation areas, you can search your local council website for a full list of conservation areas and maps of the areas. In some cases your conservation architect will need to contact the local authorities to perform the check.
Usually local authorities remove permitted development rights in conservation areas, putting an Article 4 Direction into effect. If your local council has done so, you will need planning permission for alterations that would have fallen into permitted development rights.
For listed buildings permitted development rights never apply, as they are inherently protected through the so called Listed Building Consent.
Consent is also needed to demolish any building inside conservation areas, unless smaller than 115 cubic metres (conservation area consent).
A conservation area appraisal contains a description of the conservation area and the features of the area that make it valuable. Often it also includes negative aspects of an area, with an indication on how the area can be improved. This is very useful for conservation architects to design new features that are likely to be approved by the local authorities.
Mention of a local vernacular, for example, will describe building materials recurring in the area, that must be used for external features when creating additions to a building in the area.
A conservation area consent is needed to demolish a building inside a conservation area, unless it’s smaller than 115 cubic metres. Walls and fences can be demolished without consent.
Trees with a trunk larger than 75 mm at 1.5 metres from the ground are also protected in conservation areas and their removal requires six week notice to the council.
A listed building is a building included in the National Heritage List for its architectural or historical value. You can search the actual list here.
Listed buildings are classified according to their heritage value.
Grade I buildings: buildings of exceptional interest; only 2.5% of all listed buildings are Grade I.
Grade II*: Grade II* buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest. 5.8% of listed buildings are Grade II*
Grade II: Grade II buildings are of special interest warranting every effort to preserve them. Over 90% of all listed buildings are in this grade.
The special interest can come from the architectural or historic value of the building.
The protected features of a listed building will all be mentioned in its list entry. Objects, structures and buildings affixed to a listed building or within its curtilage may also be protected by listing.
All protected features in a listed building must not be altered or, if altered, must be resumed in their original form. All alterations to a listed building are subject to planning permission, including alterations to the interiors.
The planning process for a listed building or a building located inside a conservation area can be longer and more details are often required. This means that the design and the planning process have a higher cost.
On the other hand, the investment for the building works is not significantly higher, taking into account other aspects like access, residents’ association requirements and other constraints that are very often present in such projects, but are not unique to conservation areas and listed buildings.
houseUP did a 4 month complete renovation of our flat in South Kensington, in The Boltons Conservation Area. We were very pleased with their work. Vincenzo put together a great team led by a very capable site manager. They used high quality subcontractors for plumbing and electricity. They communicated well and in a timely manner with our project manager regarding issues and problems.
houseUP carried out the roof conversion in my flat in Chiswick, in the Bedford Park Conservation Area. They brought the project in on budget and I’m happy to recommend them. Their approach of having in-house structural engineering really helped make savings by integrating the disciplines involved with design and construction.
We highly recommend houseUP. As architects, it is always difficult to find good contractors and houseUP are very professional and have great communication skills. We were very happy about this listed building project they completed in a Listed Building in Greenwich, London
We work with the best conservation architects in London, giving our clients a selection of experience, background and expertise.
All our partner architects are RIBA Chartered, and their portfolio covers all sizes of conservation projects. Together we cover all boroughs in London, including Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, Islington and Camden.
If you’re planning to do work on your listed property or on a building in a conservation area in London, we are the right team for you. And even if you are just looking for inspiration and advice, give us a call.