Pilrig Conservation Area Proposal

Pilrig Church

Recent planning legislation (Householder Permitted Development Rights) allows householders to make significant changes to their property without the need to seek planning permission unless the property is listed or is in a conservation area. Perhaps the most worrying part of this new legislation is that owners can also do anything they like to the front of their properties within a ‘bubble’ of 1 metre, which could particularly affect the appearance of Victorian tenements, colonies and terraced housing in the Pilrig area.  Because of these concerns members of the Planning Sub-Committe have written to the Council’s Planning Department to see if the area of Pilrig that is not already included in the Leith Conservation Area could form a separate ‘Pilrig Conservation Area.

Many hours of volunteer time have gone into writing a ‘Conservation Area Character Appraisal’ for Pilrig and we would like to thank Dr Annette O’Carroll in particular for her invaluable contribution to this project.  Below is the draft document which describes the many interesting historical features of Pilrig:

Draft (23_4_12)Pilrig Conservation Area Character Appraisal-1

If everything goes to plan the Council officers will report back around mid-February whether they think Pilrig is worthy of conservation status . This should be followed by a public exhibition in early March to evaluate whether the community is happy with these plans.

In case you are not familiar with the concept of a conservation area here is more information:

Conservation areas are areas of special architectural or historical importance.

There are over 600 conservation areas in Scotland. They can be historic land, battlefields, public parks, designed landscapes or railways but most commonly are groups of buildings extending over areas of a village, town or city. To safeguard them for the enjoyment and benefit of future generations any new development should preserve or enhance their varied character and there are additional controls over alterations to buildings and planning permission is required if such alterations are considered to affect the character of the area.

Are Trees included in a Conservation Area?

Trees that are within a conservation area are often protected.

Can I put up a satellite dish or replace my windows in a Conservation Area?

Living in a conservation area gives the home owner greater restrictions on alterations that can be made to their property and land. A planning application will be required for proposed alterations such as replacement window, walls, gates, sheds, porches, satellite dishes.  It is an offence to carry out works in a conservation area without planning permission. If you carry out works you may be asked to remove them.

Your local planning department or architectural service provider will be able to advise you if these restrictions are in place for your property.

What controls operate in a Conservation Area?

Conservation area consent is required for the demolition of any unlisted building in a Conservation Area (although certain very small buildings are exempt). The character or appearance of a Conservation Area through the demolition of a building and/or the construction of a new building can be significantly altered and lose some of the justification for its designation. Most buildings in a conservation area are part of the character and of the overall development of an area. Many of these will not be listed but alteration to them can have a significant impact on the rest of the area.  This means that most developments are likely to require a planning application and you are advised to check with the local authority before commencing any works. Any such planning application would usually require to include the following information:

1.    A detailed scheme for the redevelopment of the site;

2.    Details of the layout if it is to be retained as an open area;

3.    An indication of project timescale; and

4.    A structural engineer’s report when demolition is proposed.

Any planning application which is thought likely to alter the character of a Conservation Area must be advertised in the local press and a notice posted near the site. The local authority must then allow 21 days for objections and comments before determining the application.

All trees in a Conservation Area are protected from works including pruning, lopping or felling. They can make a significant contribution to the character of a Conservation Area. Before any work can be undertaken the Local Authority must be notified. On receipt of notification Edinburgh Council have six weeks in which to let you know whether formal permission is required for the proposed works.

Conservation Area Character Appraisals

Conservation Area Character Appraisals are usually created by the Local Authority. The Character Appraisal is a means of defining special qualities and architectural and historic interest. These are all characteristics which meant the area merited having Conservation Area status and the protection it can hold.

In conjunction with a range of other information such as statutory planning policy, detailed guidance at various levels and on occasion detailed site development briefs, a Character Appraisal can assist the management of development in a conservation area. These are sometimes also called a Conservation Area Management Plan.

All conservation areas are currently being reviewed on a rolling programme. If there is any doubt regarding the boundary of the conservation area please contact the Planning Officer.  Always check if you are unsure.