Heritage and conservation

Goal: To make sure that buildings that are no longer used or vacant are re-used wherever possible in order to preserve their contribution to settlements and the countryside, in turn making it a more sustainable option.

p124. There are many buildings throughout South and Vale within settlements and in the countryside that are no longer used or are vacant. These buildings include farm buildings, chapels, and schools. The reuse of existing buildings within South and Vale is a key objective in terms of preserving their contribution to settlements and the countryside but also in sustainability terms. The embodied energy in a building’s fabric is considerable. For example, it takes a lot of energy to demolish and rebuild existing buildings. With this in mind, the council seeks to encourage the re-use of buildings wherever possible, particularly when the building makes a positive contribution to the character of an area. Their conversion and re-use, however, must be done with great care in order to ensure that the essential character of the original building is not lost or that the contribution the building makes to the wider area is not compromised.

Converting existing buildings worthy of retention

p125. This section examines the design approaches that should be adopted when converting a range of existing building types. It should be noted that conversion to residential use is not always the most appropriate solution, particularly where the building is listed or is situated in an isolated location in the open countryside. Compliance with building regulations is also a key consideration for any building conversion and may require significant alterations to the original building. In these cases, the council may consider the conversion of the building as not appropriate or acceptable.

Figure 56

  Figure 49: Considering buildings worthy of retention

Example of converted buildings (Crowmarsh Battle Farm)
Converted Chapel (Kingston Blount)
Converted farm building (Crowmarsh Battle Farm)
Successful barn conversions across the Vale

    1. If the proposed conversion is within a conservation area or to part of a listed building, the proposed design must preserve or enhance the original features and/or contribute to its significance;
    2. An assessment should be made as to the existing character and the impact of a proposed conversion on any special interest or designation, as per the NPPF, and through the contextual analysis;
    3. The introduction of conspicuous domestic features should be avoided;
    4. A structural report may need to be submitted with planning application (for agricultural buildings, factories, chapels, schools and mills, etc.) to demonstrate that the building is capable of conversion without substantial rebuilding or extension;
    5. Existing openings in elevations should be used for windows and doors;
    6. New windows or doors should be added sparingly and should not significantly alter the overall proportion of solid wall to openings;
    7. Window types are in keeping with existing fenestration or a simple form is used as an appropriate alternative;
    8. Where additional floors are introduced, they should not cut across or present an exposed floor edge to feature or ecclesiastical windows;
    9. When appropriate, existing ecclesiastical fixtures and fittings should be retained;
    10. When appropriate, existing commercial or industrial fixtures and fittings should be retained;
    11. When introducing new materials, these should respond to established character and be compatible with both the existing materials and building type: for example, lime finishes, traditional weatherboarding, natural roofing and wall materials, etc.;
    12. Consider adequately a buildings adaptation for existing and future users and changing circumstances (accessibility of the conversion);
    13. Rural building conversions should be sensitive to the use of buildings by wildlife (ensure continued use by any species present) – particularly older buildings or those near to wildlife habitat;
    14. In some cases, an extension may minimise harm in a listed building conversion by accommodating services and/or allowing significant spaces to remain open. In these cases, the proposed extension should be proportional to, complement and not detract from the original building.

Note: All design principles are applicable to all scales of development unless otherwise specified; *minor applications, **major applications