Conservation Areas are chosen because of their special historic and architectural interest, and have been given special protection under planning laws. It means that the best features of the area should be preserved; and that new building (including alterations and extensions) should be designed and carried out sympathetically, to preserve or enhance the character of the area.
Residents and businesses in the area should be aware, in particular, of the following requirements. Planning permission is required for
- all roof extensions
- for exterior cladding with stone, artificial stone, pebble dash, timber, plastic or tiles.
An Article 4 Direction was made on the Walthamstow Village area in 1977 and the Orford Road area in September 2004 which removed certain additional ‘permitted development rights’ normally enjoyed by householders. Planning consent is, as a result, required for any of the following works affecting dwellinghouses, where the development would front a highway or open space.
- The enlargement, improvement, or other alterations of a dwellinghouse, i.e. changes to windows, doors, roof coverings, rainwater goods etc.
- Alterations to roofs.
- The erection of a front porch.
- The provision of a hardstanding.
- The installation, alteration or replacement of a satellite antenna.
- The erection, alteration or demolition of a front gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure within the front garden, or a side boundary facing the road.
- The erection, alteration or removal of a chimney on a dwellinghouse or on a building within the cartilage.
- The painting of a dwellinghouse (apart from like for like repainting).
Conservation Area consent is also required for the demolition of any building in the Area over 115 cubic metres.
In a conservation area you do not need consent to demolish a building which does not exceed 115 cubic metres, or to take down any wall, gate or fence which is less than 1 metre high where abutting a highway, or less than 2 metres high elsewhere.
If you are in any doubt about work you are proposing, free advice is available from the Council’s Conservation Officer, Ms Jacinta Fisher.
In certain cases the Council may be able to offer financial assistance towards the cost of restoration works by means of Historic Building Grants. Funds are limited however and each case is looked at on its individual merits.
All trees in the Conservation Area are protected, and you must give the Council six weeks written notice of any intended tree works. Free professional advice is available from the Council’s Tree Preservation Officer on 020 8496 2819.
As is clear from the historical background to the area, there is a great variety of building types within the Conservation area ranging from public buildings to substantial villas, from purpose built Victorian shops to modest two up two down cottages. All have features of interest such as patterned brickwork, moulded plaster decoration, and ornamental finials, which give the area its special character. Over the years, unfortunately, many misguided alterations have taken place which if continued unchecked could destroy this character.
Any work undertaken in a Conservation area should ‘preserve or enhance’. Alterations to doors, windows and roofs, prominently sited satellite dishes, poorly designed extensions, and unsympathetic colour schemes are just some of the more obvious things that can adversely affect the character and appearance of both individual buildings and the area as a whole, and will not be permitted.
Materials and Features
Wherever possible the original architectural features of buildings should be retained. Where they have been removed or altered they should be restored whenever the opportunity arises. This need not be prohibitively expensive and will add to the value of the property. The Council’s Conservation Officer can usually advise you on specialist suppliers and manufacturers.
In certain cases the Council may be able to offer financial assistance towards the cost of restoration works by means of Historic Building Grants. Funds are limited however and each case will be looked at on its individual merits.
The traditional building materials of the period were brick and slate. Brickwork is attractive and durable in its own right and should never be painted or rendered unless part of the original design. Where this has been done it is sometimes possible to remove paint or render to restore the original appearance, but specialist help should be sought. Repainting of brickwork when it becomes necessary should be done in a Lime-based mortar, and modern weather-struck joints should be avoided in favour of traditional flush or recessed joints.
Natural slates both new and second hand are still freely available and should always be used if your roof requires repair or replacement. Concrete tiles should be avoided as they are both unattractive and totally inappropriate for the area. Re-roofing in second hand natural slate incorporating a large proportion of slates salvaged from the original roof is the most satisfactory and economic solution. Chimney stacks and pots should not be ignored as they are characteristic features of the roofscape and should be retained in good condition even if no longer used.
Alterations to original windows can have a significant detrimental effect on the character and appearance of buildings in the area and will not be permitted. Timber sash windows are the original and correct form of window for the majority of the buildings in the area, and where they have decayed they can easily be repaired or replaced to match the original design. There are a number of local firms who manufacture and install new windows to match the existing at no greater cost than the historically and visually inappropriate aluminium or UPVC alternatives which should always be avoided.
Many of the properties in the area still retain their original Victorian front doors and these should always be retained, never replaced with inappropriate mass produced modern designs. These only spoil the originality and appearance of the property and are not necessarily any cheaper than maintaining the original or replacing it with a matching
Original door furniture, such as knockers, letter boxes, and bell pulls, are now becoming rarer and where they have survived they should be kept as features of interest. In nearly all circumstance these would be made of cast iron and finished in black paint not the polished brass or modern examples.
The internal features and layout of buildings are often ignored, but are equally important elements in conservation. Alterations such as partitions, lobbies and through lounges can all affect the originality of a building and should be carefully considered. Original fireplaces and mantelpieces, ceiling cornices and roses, skirting boards, and panelled doors are all valuable features which should be kept and restored whenever possible.
Second hand fireplaces and doors are still freely available from salvage yards and local ‘fireplace’ shops and will add considerably to the internal character of those buildings where they have been removed.
Cast Iron Work
Regrettably the majority of the original ironwork throughout the area (railings, boot scrapers, widow guards etc) was lost during the last war ostensibly to provide armaments.
Where anything original does survive it is now a rarity and of particular value. Many original patterns are still produced by specialist cast iron companies so it is quite possible to recreate the original appearance of most buildings in the area.
Moulded stucco plasterwork above and around doors and windows (often in the form of classical pilasters or lush foliage) is an important decorative feature of the buildings of the period and should be protected by regular painting. White or off-whites such as cream or magnolia are probably the most suitable colours to use.
The surviving original shopfronts in the area, including their fascias, pilasters and retractable canvas blinds, are important historical features which should be retained and restored as necessary.
Internally illuminated fascias and box signs, aluminium or uPVC shopfronts, plastic canopies and ‘dutch blinds’, inappropriate external/internal security grilles and boxes can all detract from the character and appearance of Victorian shops and will not be permitted.
The above is from the LB Waltham Forest’s “Orford Road Conservation Area” leaflet; written by Guy Osborne, illustrations by Chris Spencer.
- Download the council’s Walthamstow Village conservation area leaflet.
- Download the council’s Orford Road conservation area leaflet.