Conservation Area Management

The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 states that conservation areas “are areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance.” 

Local authorities have a statutory duty to identify and designate such areas.

Policy & Legislation

The current legislation for conservation areas is the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas)(Scotland) Act 1997.  This Act requires planning authorities to “from time to time determine which part of their districts are areas of special architectural or historic interest the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance” and “designate such areas as conservation areas”.

The Scottish Historic Environment Policy (SHEP) sets out Scottish Ministers’ policies, providing direction for Historic Scotland and a policy framework that informs the work of a wide range of public sector organisations.

SHEP contains details of national  policy on the designation and protection of conservation areas.

Designation: see pages 26-27 and Annex 3.

Conservation Area Consents: see page 43.

The main regulatory instrument afforded by conservation status is the control of demolition of unlisted buildings and structures through “conservation area consent”

This was introduced in 1971 in the recognition of the importance that even relatively minor buildings can play to the overall character or appearance of a conservation area (in general terms, the demolition of a structure unless it is a listed building is afforded permitted development status).

Conservation area status also brings the following works under planning control:

  • removal of, or work to, trees
  • development involving small house extensions and alterations

Recent changes to Householder Permitted Development Rights means that more minor developments are now controlled in Conservation Areas.


Planning Advice Note 71 (PAN71): Conservation Area Management  (Dec 2004)

Planning Advice Notes (PANs) published by the Scottish Government provide advice on good practice and other relevant information.

This PAN complements existing national policy and provides further advice on the management of conservation areas. It identifies good practice for managing change, sets out a checklist for appraising conservation areas and provides advice on funding and implementation.

Scottish Civic Trust How-to-guide: Conservation Area Management  (Nov 2011)

This guidance document recognises the role that local groups play in the effective management of conservation areas in Scotland, and is intended as a guide for local groups and individuals to better understand the implications of conservation area designation, the planning policy context, and good practice for managing change and influencing the shape of Scotland’s built environment.

A Guide to Conservation Areas in Scotland (March 2005)

A Scottish Executive/Historic Scotland guide to the designation, safeguarding and enhancement of Conservation Areas.

Conservation Area Maintenance Guide (April 2007)

This guide for owners, created by East Ayrshire Council for the Kilmarnock THI, is intended to help address poor maintenance and repair, which is one of the biggest threats to a town’s historic fabric, providing information for owners on the best and most economic way for them to maintain their properties. It seeks to explain in an accessible and non-technical manner the principal causes of decay, how they can be prevented, and where repairs are necessary how they should be carried out.

Scottish Civic Trust Briefing Note: Householder Permitted Development Rights Changes (February 2011)

A summary of the changes which came into force on 6th February 2012, which alter the classes of householder development which require planning permission in a conservation area, and bring in stricter controls for conservation areas.

Case Studies

Our views

These letters are examples of letters SCT has written in response to Listed Building Consent and Conservation Area Consent applications to demolish buildings. Use them to help you frame your own comments on a planning application, and to better understand how historic environment policy and guidance can be used to support your comments. 

Demolition of Perth City Halls – July 2011 and March 2014
A category B-listed building in Perth owned by the local authority. A complex case due to the ownership of the site. The case was referred to Historic Scotland, who refused the Council permission to demolish. See more on the details of the case at Historic Scotland’s website here. This case is ongoing.

Demolition of Seafield House (Jan 2012)
A Category B-listed building in Ayr on the Buildings at Risk Register

Demolition of Ashvilla, Old Deer (May 2009)
Retrospective application to demolish an unlisted house in a conservation area. This application was subsequently refused, and refused again at appeal, with the applicants being required to reinstate a traditional dwelling house on the site.

Demolition of Station Court Home, Kirkcaldy – Oct 2008 and August 2010
An application to demolish an unlisted building on a prominent site in a conservation area. The original application was for a facade retention scheme, requiring the demolition of the majority of the rear of the building. The Trust then commented on various schemes, including one for total demolition in 2010. Permission was granted with conditions in 2014 for alterations and partial demolition to convert the building to residential use.

Useful Links

Conservation Area Regeneration Schemes (CARS)

This fund, administered by Historic Scotland, provides financial assistance for area based regeneration and conservation initiatives undertaken by local authorities.