Planning in the Hanger Hill (Haymills) Estate Conservation Area

Planning in the Hanger Hill (Haymills) Estate Conservation Area

This note deals principally with two key aspects of the planning regime as they affect householders who live on the Hanger Hill Haymills Estate: firstly, getting planning permission; and secondly, the forthcoming changes in the rules on what is and what is not acceptable to the planning authority.

The Hanger Hill Haymills Estate was first designated a conservation area in 1996, and the first set of planning restrictions specific to the area were introduced in 1997. A more comprehensive approach was developed some years later, leading to two principal documents being issued in 2008: the Conservation Area Character Appraisal, which set out the history and geographical background of the Estate and defined what conservation policy sought to protect in architectural terms; and the Conservation Area Management Plan, which set out the principles, rules and guidance that would apply in considering development applications. These two documents remain valid today.

Whether you need to get planning permission for changes you have in mind is not entirely straightforward. There are two documents that you may need to consult (if as owner of the property you are doing this yourself):

  • the best place to start is the Conservation Area Management Plan itself; section 5.5 sets out six areas that define when permission is required; these are additional areas specific to our Conservation Area;
  • if however the development that you have in mind does not appear in section 5.5, you will anyway have to satisfy the rules that apply to all properties nationally if you are to avoid having to put in an application; these rules are set out in the General Permitted Development Order, which is a legalistic document as it takes the form of secondary legislation; the section that applies to ‘dwelling houses’ as they are called in the legislation is Schedule 2, Part 1; the coverage of the GPDO is comprehensive, and includes new types of development like solar panels and air source heat pumps.

The complexity of the task of deciding whether you need planning permission is one of the reasons why it is useful at the start to engage a planning agent or architect who has experience in carrying out this task. A second reason is that the planning agent/architect, provided they have local experience, will be able to advise you (if you do need planning permission) about what is likely to be acceptable to the planning authority.

In addition a consultation process is available provided by the Council’s planning service. This can help avoid unnecessary work being carried out by your architect or possibly the need for a repeat application. A discussion is arranged with a Duty Planning Officer, after submission of draft plans, and they give you advice on what is likely to be acceptable and what is not. This advice is not binding on the eventual decision, but nevertheless provides useful guidance – though jt comes with a fee attached!

The Council (the London Borough of Ealing) as planning authority has initiated a review of the conservation areas of the Borough (of which there are 29 in all). This has now been largely completed, but key procedural and legal steps remain to be carried out, in particular a formal consultation process and legal changes to statutory instruments to give effect where necessary to changes proposed. Hopefully these steps will be completed by the end of 2023.

A key change to be introduced is the division of rules and guidance into two parts. One part will apply to all the 29 conservation areas, and this is entitled the Generic Management Plan, while the other part will cover the additional rules and guidance to be applied to specific conservation areas. The current position is different for the two:

  • the Generic Management Plan has already been published, and provides a picture of the `generic’ rules and guidance that will shortly apply; much of this material is a continuation of existing rules and guidance, but some is new (for example, the creation of basements is now covered);
  • the additional specific rules and guidance, including those for our own conservation area, are still in draft; however, only one significant change has been proposed by the Council’s consultant leading the review: this relates to `boundary treatment’ (which means all walls, fencing and railings) for front gardens; it is proposed that planning permission should be required for all changes and not just those over 1m in height (the current requirement); the change would mean that all front walls, fences and railings would need to be designed to be in keeping with the character of the conservation area, i.e simple in design and low in height.

For the time being however the two documents mentioned at the start (the current Character Appraisal and Management Plan) remain the key ones.

JULY 2023