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Planning Laws, Requirements and Guidance that proposed developments should comply with.

The planning laws keep changing. The National Policy Framework (NPPF) and Guidance (NPPG) is the latest. PPG documents have been superceded but their principles are helpful. PPG15 was replaced by PPS5 which has in turn has been superceded.

Page contents:

Bristol Local Plan – Central Area Plan

The council has a Central Area Plan for the period to 2026.

Local List of Planning Application Requirements

This is the list planners use when planning applications are validated and they are looking at what supporting information needs to be submitted with an application. Guidance in the NNPG (para 39) is that “A local planning authority may request supporting information with a planning application. Its requirements should be specified on a formally adopted ‘local list’ which has been published on its website less than two years before an application is submitted. Local information requirements have no bearing on whether a planning application is valid unless they are set out on such a list.”

Site Allocations and Development Management Policies

Ratified in July 2014. The Site Allocations and Development Management Policies sets out site allocations for development, policy designations and development management policies.

All the documents can be found on

Bristol Development Management Policies

Housing and Economy Policies

  • DM1 – Presumption in favour of sustainable development
    • Required by Planning Inspectors to reflect government policy.
  • DM2 – Residential sub-divisions, shared and specialist housing (lead policy BCS18, other BCS17, BCS21, BCS22)
    • Prevents the conversion of houses to flats and creation of shared houses (including houses in multiple occupation) where this would harm the character of an area or its balance of housing.
    • Promotes the city centre as a location for student housing, along with other locations that are close to universities or colleges or well connected to them by bus.
    • Encourages and sets standards for the development of specialist older people’s housing.
  • DM3 – Affordable Housing Provision: Smaller Sites (lead policy BCS17, other BCS18)
    • Seeks 20% affordable housing through negotiation from residential developments of 10 to 14 dwellings.
    • Seeks on-site provision or a financial payment if this is impractical.
    • Requires submission of a viability appraisal where 20% cannot be achieved.
  • DM4 – Wheelchair Accessible Housing (lead policy BCS18)
    • Requires 2% of units with residential schemes of 50 dwellings or more to be wheelchair accessible or adaptable.
  • DM5 – Protection of Community Facilities (lead policy BCS12)
    • Protects community facilities subject to assessment of importance, suitability and potential for alternative provision.
  • DM6 – Public Houses (lead policy BCS12, other BCS2)
    • Prevents the loss of public houses unless the business is no longer viable or a range public houses exist in the locality.
    • Protects the architectural character of public houses.
  • DM7 – Town Centre Uses (lead policy BCS7, other BCS10)
    • Allows for retail, leisure and hotel uses inside identified centres.
    • Permits suitably scaled retail, leisure and hotels on the edge of centres where there are no sites in centres.
    • Provided the development does not harm existing centres, allows for out of centre retail, leisure and hotels where no sites are available inside or on the edge of centres.
    • Permits small scale retail and leisure developments outside centres.
  • DM8 – Shopping areas and frontages (lead policy BCS7, other BCS21)
    • Identifies primary shopping areas and secondary shopping frontages in town and district centres around the city with the aim of keeping a strong shopping area at their core, surrounded by complementary uses.
    • Generally prevents retail shops changing to other uses in primary shopping areas unless the change would have a positive effect on the centre.
    • Permits a range of active ground floor uses such as financial services or community facilities in secondary shopping frontages.
      (Note – under planning law policies cannot distinguish between national multiples and independent retailers)
  • DM9 – Local centres (lead policy BCS7, other BCS21)
    • Permits uses which help maintain or enhance the function of a local centre and its ability to meet day to day shopping needs.
    • Aims to maintain a balance of uses in the centre.
    • Prevents uses which could fragment or dominate shopping frontages.
  • DM10 – Food and drink uses and the evening economy (lead policy BCS7, other BCS21, BCS23)
    • Allows food and drink uses where they would not harm character, residential environments or public safety.
    • Prevents harmful concentration of food and drink uses.
    • Prevents takeaways close to schools and youth facilities where they could influence behaviour harmful to health.
  • DM11 – Markets (lead policy BCS7, other BCS21)
    • Encourages provision of new markets.
    • Prevents the loss of existing market sites unless there would be no harm to local shopping provision.
    • Ensures new markets have suitable storage, market trader facilities and parking for trader vehicles.
      (Note – many types of markets and informal trading activities do not require planning permission.)
  • DM12 – Retaining valuable employment sites (lead policy BCS8)
    • Retains employment sites outside the city centre unless there is no demand for employment uses.
  • DM13 – Development proposals on Principal Industrial and Warehousing areas
    • Retains the larger industrial and warehousing areas for those purposes.
    • Allows for, community uses, some leisure uses and training uses in these areas.
    • Allows for redevelopment for other uses where sites become vacant and there is no demand for new industry and warehousing.

Health Policies

  • DM14 – The Health Impacts of Development (lead policy BCS21, other BCS9, BCS10, BCS13, BCS15, BCS23)
    • Ensures development with unacceptable health impacts will not be permitted.
    • Requires health impact assessment for large developments.

Green Infrastructure Policies

  • DM15 – Green Infrastructure Provision (lead policy BCS9, other BCS5, BCS10, BCS11, BCS13, BCS16, BCS21)
    • Green Infrastructure provided should be multifunctional
    • Connect and enhance strategic Green Infrastructure Network
    • Food growing space in all residential development
    • Statutory allotments required in development of roughly 350 – 400 dwellings
    • Water features provided should be sustainable
    • Trees should be provided – range of circumstances and settings when they should be sought
  • DM16 – Open Space for Recreation (lead policy BCS9, other BCS5, BCS10, BCS11, BCS13, BCS16, BCS21)
    • Provision standards, linked to PGSS
  • DM17 – Development involving existing green infrastructure (lead policy BCS9, other BCS5, BCS10, BCS16, BCS21, BCS23)
    • Prevents Important Open Spaces being developed – these areas are coloured green on the Policies Map.
    • Protects important trees and other important landscape features.
    • Where some loss of trees cannot be avoided, the policy requires their replacement, generally in greater numbers.
  • DM18 – Avonmouth and Kingsweston Levels (lead policy BCS4, BCS9, other BCS16, BCS22)
    • Maintains the undeveloped status of green field land in this area.
    • Allows for development suited to open areas, for example wind turbines.
    • DM 19 – Development and Nature Conservation (lead policy BCS9, other BCS13, BCS21, BCS23)
    • Requirement for appropriate survey and assessment of impacts upon habitats, species, features etc
    • Mitigation on site, then off site
    • Take opportunities to connect sites/features on site to Wildlife Network
    • Green infrastructure design or placement to have nature conservation value if on or near sites of nature conservation value
    • No harm to SNCI”s
    • Maintain the connectivity and function of wildlife corridors (development is acceptable)
  • DM20 – Regionally Important Geological Sites (lead policy BCS9)
    • No harm to RIGs
  • DM21 – Private Gardens (lead policy BCS9, other BCS5, BCS20, BCS21)
    • Generally prevents private gardens being developed
    • Allows for development in limited circumstances – where higher densities are appropriate; where improved urban design would result; for house extensions.
    • Prevents development of gardens where it would harm the character and appearance of an area.
  • DM22 – Development Adjacent to Waterways (lead policy BCS9, other BCS10, BCS16, BCS21, BCS23)
    • Public connections (walking, cycling, maintenance) adjacent to waterways
    • Connect waterways to public realm in vicinity of development site
    • Protect nature conservation of waterways AND banks
    • Open culverted or piped waterways where feasible
    • Avoid loss of waterways
    • Take opportunity to enhance recreation and leisure role of waterways

Transport Policies

  • DM23 Transport Development Management (lead policy BCS10, other BCS9, BCS11, BCS21)
    • Criteria for ensuring development is acceptable in transport terms.
  • DM24 – Transport Schemes (lead policy BCS10)
    • Safeguards the routes of specified transport proposals.
  • DM25 – Greenways (lead policy BCS10, other BCS9)
    • Ensures cycle routes are incorporated into development.

Design Policies

  • DM26 – Local character and distinctiveness(lead policy BCS9, other BCS5, BCS20, BCS21)
    • Requires all new development to reflect the distinctive characteristics of the surrounding area such as the shape of the landscape, important views, scale of buildings, local materials and historic features.
    • Sets out additional design principles for certain specific types of development frequently encountered in Bristol, such as development to the rear of existing homes.
  • DM27 – Layout and form (lead policy BCS21, other BCS9, BCS10, BCS13, BCS15, BCS22)
    • Requires development to create a high quality environment, with a clear, safe and attractive network of streets and spaces and buildings of the right height and scale that relate well to the street.
    • Sets out principles for the landscape design of development and the servicing and management of public spaces.
  • DM28 – Public Realm (lead policy BCS21, other BCS9, BCS10, BCS13, BCS22)
    • Requires the streets and spaces created by development to be safe and attractive, to meet the mobility needs of all users (including, for example, older people, young families and disabled people), and to provide for a range of social activity such as trade, events, relaxation and play.
  • DM29 – Design of New Buildings (lead policy BCS21, other BCS9, BCS13, BCS15, BCS22)
    • Requires the design of new buildings to be well organised to reflect their function and surroundings and to be detailed to a high standard with high quality materials.
    • The policy also requires new buildings to make the best of opportunities for energy efficiency and planting, and to provide surveillance of the surrounding area while protecting the privacy of existing development.
    • Contains specific additional principles for shopfronts and signage.
  • DM30 – Alterations to Existing Buildings (lead policy BCS21, other BCS13, BCS15, BCS22)
    • Requires changes to existing buildings to respect the character of those buildings while protecting the privacy of existing development.
    • Encourages the sensitive adaptation of buildings to other uses as an alternative to demolition.
  • DM31 – Heritage Assets (lead policy BCS22, other BCS13, BCS15, BCS21)
    • Assesses the impact of development on heritage assets and requires that development minimises any harm to those assets.
    • Supports sensitively designed energy efficiency improvements to historic buildings.
  • DM32 – Recycling and Refuse in New Development (lead policy BCS215, other BCS21, “Waste and Recycling collection and storage guidance”)
    • Sets out standards for recycling and refuse storage in new development with reference to guidance published by Development Management.
    • Requires recycling and refuse storage to be well-designed and safe and convenient to access.

Pollution Policies

  • DM33 – Pollution Control, Air Quality and Water Quality (lead policy BCS23, “air quality and land use planning guide”)
    • Requires development to minimise its contribution to pollution.
    • Does not permit development sensitive to noise or other pollution where the presence of that development might threaten important nearby uses such as factories and waste transfer stations.
    • Requires development to address the effects of poor air quality.
    • Requires development next to many of the city’s waterways to help them maintain a good standard of water quality.
  • DM34 – Contaminated Land (lead policy BCS23)
    • Requires development to address any existing contamination of development land.
    • Ensures that development will not itself cause land to become contaminated.
  • DM35 – Noise Mitigation (lead policy BCS23)
    • Requires development to minimise its noise impact.
    • Sets out how noise-sensitive development should be designed to minimise the impact of existing noise.

Utilities and Minerals Policies

  • DM36 – Telecommunications (lead policy BCS21, other BCS9, BCS10, BCS13, BCS22)
    • Requires telecommunications development such as mobile phone masts to minimise the number and visual impact of installations, and to be certified that it meets international standards on radiation emissions to minimise any risk to public health.
  • DM37 – Unstable Land (lead policy no specific BCS but local plan ME13 Development on Unstable Land relevant, other BCS23)
    • Criteria for considering development proposals on unstable land
  • DM38 – Minerals Safeguarding Areas (lead policy no specific BCS, other BCS6)
    • Safeguards an area of coal resources in SE Bristol Green Belt for potential extraction.
  • DM39 – Sewage Treatment Works (lead policy BCS 11, other BCS4)
    • Safeguards land at Avonmouth for sewage works expansion, if required.

Bristol Core Strategy

Spatial Strategy

  • Policy BCS1 South Bristol
  • Policy BCS2 Bristol City Centre
  • Policy BCS3 Northern Arc and Inner East Bristol – Regeneration Areas
  • Policy BCS4 Avonmouth and Bristol Port

Approach to Other Areas of Bristol

  • Policy BCS5 Housing Provision
  • Policy BCS6 Green Belt
  • Policy BCS7 Centres and Retailing
  • Policy BCS8 Delivering a Thriving Economy
  • Policy BCS9 Green Infrastructure

Transport and Access Improvements

  • Policy BCS10

Development Principles

  • Policy BCS11 Infrastructure and Developer Contributions
  • Policy BCS12 Community Facilities
  • Policy BCS13 Climate Change
  • Policy BCS14 Sustainable Energy
  • Policy BCS15 Sustainable Design and Construction
  • Policy BCS16 Flood Risk and Water Management
  • Policy BCS17 Affordable Housing Provision
  • Policy BCS18 Housing Type
  • Policy BCS19 Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeople
  • Policy BCS20 Effective and Efficient Use of Land
  • Policy BCS21 Quality Urban Design
  • Policy BCS22 Conservation and the Historic Environment
  • Policy BCS23 Pollution

Bristol Supplementary Council planning documents

  • SPD 1 – Tall Buildings
  • SPD 2 – A guide for designing house alterations and extensions (
  • SPD 3 – Future of Redcliffe
  • SPD 4 – Achieving Positive Planning through the use of Planning Obligations
  • SPD 5 – Sustainable Building Design and Construction
  • SPD 6 – Economic Contributions from New Development
  • SPD 7 – Archaeology and Development
  • SPD 8 – Nelson Street
  • SPD 10 – St Pauls
  • SPD 11 – University of Bristol

Bristol Supplementary planning guidance

Policy Advice Notes (PAN) and other adopted SPG:

  • PAN 1 – Residential Guidelines (pdf, 2.5 MB)(opens new window)
  • PAN 2 – Conservation Area Enhancement Statements (see also (pdf, 3.4 MB)(opens new window)Conservation Area Charecter Appraisals)
  • PAN 6 – Off-Street Residential Parking in Conservation Areas (pdf, 262 KB)(opens new window)
  • PAN 8 – Shopfront Guidelines (pdf, 0.8 MB)(opens new window)
  • PAN 14 – Safety and Security (pdf, 404 KB)(opens new window)
  • PAN 15 – Responding to local character – a design guide (pdf, 0.6 MB)(opens new window)
  • PAN 17 – Retail Diversity – Planning For Change (pdf, 2.7 MB)(opens new window)
  • PAN 18 – Telecommunications development (pdf, 1.0 MB)(opens new window)
  • PAN 19 – Hostels and other Temporary Accommodation (pdf, 0.6 MB)(opens new window)
  • Assessment of Food and Drink uses (Gloucester Road) (pdf, 369 KB)(opens new window)
  • Assessment of Food and Drink uses (Whiteladies Road) (pdf, 41 KB)

Heritage Decisions

In heritage conservation there are two inescapable legal requirements that apply to decisions concerning listed buildings, their settings and conservation areas. To paraphrase crudely, they require special regard to the desirability of conserving them. See ss16, 66 and 72 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 for their full terms.

  • SS16: (2)In considering whether to grant listed building consent for any works the local planning authority or the Secretary of State shall have special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses.
    (3)Any listed building consent shall (except in so far as it otherwise provides) enure for the benefit of the building and of all persons for the time being interested in it.
  • SS66: In considering whether to grant planning permission for development which affects a listed building or its setting, the local planning authority or, as the case may be, the Secretary of State shall have special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses.
  • SS72: In the exercise, with respect to any buildings or other land in a conservation area, of any [functions under or by virtue of] any of the provisions mentioned in subsection (2), special attention shall be paid to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of that area.

For more detail on how to ensure all the decision-making principles are adhered to, please see English Heritage’s online Guide to Heritage Protection (

End of Conservation Area Consent

On 1 October 2013 government switched off the requirement for conservation area consent for demolition and switched on a new requirement for planning permission in the same circumstances. The change was simply to make processing consents more efficient. It should have no impact on the protection of conservation areas. Failure to apply for conservation area consent when it is needed was a criminal offence.This was a necessary deterrent when the effect of demolition is usually impossible to properly reverse. We now have a new offence of failing to apply for planning permission for demolition in a conservation area. Sadly the change did not address the “Shimizu” court case interpretation of what is “demolition”. Therefore what does and does not require permis­sion remains the same.

Summary guide to the amended Regulations on Design and Access Statements

Introduced 25 June 2013 by amendments to the Development Management

Procedure Order and Listed Building and Conservation Area Regulations

1) These changes reduce the numbers of planning applications that must be accompanied by a design and access statement, and reduces the level of prescription regarding their content (Including those to accompany Listed Building Consent applications).

2) From 25 June 2013, Design and Access Statements are required for:

  • a. Major development.
  • b. Development in a designated (i.e. Conservation /World Heritage site) area for
    • i. the provision of one or more dwelling houses; or
    • ii. any building above 100sq metres.
  • c. All Listed Building applications.

3) Specific exclusions from needing a Design and Statement are planning applications;

  • a. for permission to develop land without compliance with conditions previously attached (i.e. section 73 applications)
  • b. seeking to extend the life of an application
  • c. for engineering or mining operations
  • d. for a material change in use of the land or buildings
  • e. for development, which is waste development.

4) A Design and Access Statement has to explain:

  • a. the design principles and concepts that have been applied to the development, and
  • b. how issues relating to access to the development have been dealt with.

5) The Design and Access Statement shall:

  • a. Explain the design principles and concepts that have been applied to the development.
  • b. Demonstrate the steps taken to appraise the context of the development, and how the design of the development takes that context into account.
  • c. Explain the policy adopted as to access, and how policies relating to access in relevant local development documents have been taken into account.
  • d. State what, if any, consultation has been undertaken on issues relating to access to the development and what account has been taken of the outcome of any such consultation.
  • e. Explain how any specific issues which might affect access to the development have been addressed.

6) For Listed Buildings, the effect is to streamline the content required in all applications for listed building consent, and the Design and Access statement needs to explain:

  • a. the design principles and concepts that have been applied to the works, and
  • b. how the design principles and concepts have been applied to the works take account of
    • (i) the special architectural or historic importance of the building,
    • (ii) the particular physical features of the building that justify its designation as a listed building, and
    • (iii) the building’s setting, and
  • c. how the issues relating to access to the building have been dealt with.(NB does not apply if it is internal works only)

Further Information:

National Planning Policy Framework

One now refers to paragraphs within sections of the framework. The purpose is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development with regard to economic, social and environmental dimensions (which should protect and enhance our natural, built and historic environment. Par 6). Core Planning Principles:

  1. Building a strong, competitive economy (Par 18-22)
  2. Ensuring the vitality of town centres (Par 23-27)
  3. Supporting a prosperous rural economy (Par 28)
  4. Promoting sustainable transport (Par 29-41)
  5. Supporting high quality communications infrastructure (Par 42-46)
  6. Delivering a wide choice of high quality homes (Par 47-55)
  7. Requiring good design (Par 56-68)
  8. Promoting healthy communities (Par 69-78)
  9. Protecting Green Belt land (Par 79-92)
  10. Meeting the challenge of climate change, flooding and coastal change (Par 93-108)
  11. Conserving and enhancing the natural environment (Par 109-125)
  12. Conserving and enhancing the historic environment (Par 126-141)
  13. Facilitating the sustainable use of minerals (Par 142-149)

Conserving and enhancing the historic environment (National Framework Policy Paragraphs)

Summary List of most relevant paragraphs (refer to the full document for detail)

  • 12 states that when considering the impact of a proposed development on the significance of a designated heritage asset, great weight should be given to the assets conservation, with any harm or loss requiring clear and convincing justification.
  • 126. Local planning authorities should set out in their Local Plan a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment, (relates to local planning and Listed Buildings and Conservation Act 1990) including heritage assets most at risk through neglect, decay or other threats. In doing so, they should recognise that heritage assets are an irreplaceable resource and conserve them in a manner appropriate to their significance.
  • 128. In determining applications, local planning authorities should require an applicant to describe the significance of any heritage assets affected, including any contribution made by their setting. The level of detail should be proportionate to the assets importance and no more than is sufficient to understand the potential impact of the proposal on their significance. As a minimum the relevant historic environment record should have been consulted and the heritage assets assessed using appropriate expertise where necessary. Where a site on which development is proposed includes or has the potential to include heritage assets with archaeological interest, local planning authorities should require developers to submit an appropriate desk-based assessment and, where necessary, a field evaluation.
  • 129. Local planning authorities should identify and assess the particular significance of any heritage asset that may be affected by a proposal (including by development affecting the setting of a heritage asset) taking account of the available evidence and any necessary expertise. They should take this assessment into account when considering the impact of a proposal on a heritage asset, to avoid or minimise conflict between the heritage assets conservation and any aspect of the proposal.
  • 130. Where there is evidence of deliberate neglect of or damage to a heritage asset the deteriorated state of the heritage asset should not be taken into account in any decision.
  • 131. In determining planning applications, local planning authorities should take account of:
    • the desirability of sustaining and enhancing the significance of heritage assets and putting them to viable uses consistent with their conservation;
    • the positive contribution that conservation of heritage assets can make to sustainable communities including their economic vitality; and
    • the desirability of new development making a positive contribution to local character and distinctiveness.
  • 132. When considering the impact of a proposed development on the significance of a designated heritage asset, great weight should be given to the asset’s conservation. The more important the asset, the greater the weight should be. Significance can be harmed or lost through alteration or destruction of the heritage asset or development within its setting. As heritage assets are irreplaceable, any harm or loss should require clear and convincing justification. Substantial harm to or loss of a grade II listed building, park or garden should be exceptional. Substantial harm to or loss of designated heritage assets of the highest significance, notably scheduled monuments, protected wreck sites, battlefields, grade I and II* listed buildings, grade I and II* registered parks and gardens, and World Heritage Sites, should be wholly exceptional.
  • 133. Where a proposed development will lead to substantial harm to or total loss of significance of a designated heritage asset, local planning authorities should refuse consent, unless it can be demonstrated that the substantial harm or loss is necessary to achieve substantial public benefits that outweigh that harm or loss
  • 135. The effect of an application on the significance of a non-designated heritage asset should be taken into account in determining the application. In weighing applications that affect directly or indirectly non designated heritage assets, a balanced judgement will be required having regard to the scale of any harm or loss and the significance of the heritage asset.
  • 136. Local planning authorities should not permit loss of the whole or part of a heritage asset without taking all reasonable steps to ensure the new development will proceed after the loss has occurred.

Extracts from Planning Guidance Notes from the Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

. These have been replaced but principles of criteria for objections to development in the Conservation Area are the same.

Grounds for Opposition by Local Residents

“The members of the local planning authority are elected to represent the interests of the whole community in planning matters. But when determining planning applications they must take into account any relevant views on planning matters expressed by neighbouring occupiers, local residents and any other third parties along with all other material considerations. However, local opposition or support for a proposal is not in itself a ground for refusing or granting planning permission, unless that opposition or support is founded upon valid planning reasons which can be substantiated“. (PPG1 / 60).


“The Secretary of State attaches particular importance to early consultation with the local planning authority on development proposals which would affect historic sites and structures, whether listed buildings, conservation areas, parks and gardens, battlefields or the wider historic landscape. There is likely to be much more scope for refinement and revision of proposals if consultation takes place before intentions become firm and timescales inflexible. Local planning authorities should indicate their readiness to discuss proposals with developers before formal planning applications are submitted. They should expect developers to assess the likely impact of their proposals on the special interest of the site or structure in question, and to provide such written information or drawings as may be required to understand the significance of a site or structure before an application is determined. The principle of early consultation should extend to English Heritage and the national amenity societies on cases where a formal planning or listed building consent application would be notifiable to them by direction or under the GDO”. (PPG 15 2.11)

Local planning authorities are urged to ensure that they have appropriately qualified specialist advice on any development which, by its character or location, might be held to have an adverse effect on any sites or structures of the historic environment. Authorities should ensure that the Royal Fine Art Commission is consulted on all planning applications raising conservation issues of more than local importance, and should take the RFAC’s views fully into account in reaching their decisions” (PPG 15)

Architectural and Historical Analysis of the Local Conservation Area

“The special architectural features of the surrounding buildings need to be analysed and their details reflected in the new proposals. In particular, the design of new buildings in Conservation Areas should consider the height, scale, proportion, and alignment of the surrounding traditional buildings, and have regard to the existing density and patterns of development“. “In order successfully to integrate new development into the environment, it is necessary to have a knowledge and understanding of its local context, ie the visual and functional characteristics of that area”.

The Character Appraisals for each area can be found on the Conservation section of the planning section of the Council web site. These help residents and us to understand the history of an area and why it is special. They help shape future developments and planning policies, as well as giving residents an idea of what enhancements could be made. The Council has undertaken a review of Bristol’s existing conservation areas. This is through the production of a character appraisal and set of management proposals for each area. The consultation and adoption process for each appraisal will give it enough weight to be a significant consideration in making planning decisions, and at appeal.

CHIS spent 2 years preparatory work for the Clifton and Hotwells Character Appraisal and Management Proposals Document and were extensively involved throughout its drafting before it was published in June 2010. We received special thanks for our work. It is 100 pages long (it could have been twice as long!) with many photographs mostly taken by us to illustrate our points. It was a wonderful project to get involved in and made us look around and enjoy our wonderful conservation area even more. We refer to it in most of our comments about planning applications.

Requirement to preserve or enhance the character of the conservation area

“In the exercise, with respect to any buildings or other land in a conservation area, of any powers under any of the provisions mentioned [Planning Acts and Part I of the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953] …. special attention shall be paid to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of that area” (Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 S72).

“The Courts have recently confirmed that planning decisions in respect of development proposed to be carried out in a conservation area must give a high priority to the objective of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of the area. If any proposed development would conflict with that objective, there will be a strong presumption against the grant of planning permission, although in exceptional cases the presumption may be overridden in favour of development which is desirable on the ground of some other public interest”. (PPG15 4.19)

As to the precise interpretation of “preserve or enhance”, the Courts have held (South Lakeland DC v Secretary of State for the Environment, [1992] 2 WLR 204) that there is no requirement in the legislation that conservation areas should be protected from all development which does not enhance or positively preserve. Whilst the character and appearance of conservation areas should always be given full weight in planning decisions, the objective of preservation can be achieved either by development which makes a positive contribution to an area’s character or appearance, or by development which leaves character and appearance unharmed. (PPG 15 4.20)

There is a strong presumption against the grant of planning permission for a development which would conflict with these objectives. The guidance states that development which leaves the character and appearance of an area unharmed has been considered by the courts to preserve that character and appearance. The essential test therefore is to consider if any demonstrable harm would be caused to the character and appearance of the Clifton Conservation Area.

English Heritage Advice Notes

Under the heading “enhancement” the conservation area practice document gives guidance on the design of new buildings in historic areas.

In considering proposals for new buildings in conservation areas the principal concerns should be the appropriateness of the overall mass or volume of the building, its scale (the expression of size indicated by the windows, doors, floor heights, and other identifiable units), and its relationship with its context – whether it sits comfortably. The new building should be in harmony with, or complimentary to, its neighbours, having regard to the adjoining architectural styles. The use of materials generally matching those which are historically dominant in the area is important, as is the need for the development not to have a visually disruptive impact on the existing townscape or street scene. It should also, as far as possible, fit into the grain of an historic area, for example by respecting surviving medieval street patterns. All these aspects can be assessed to a large degree without reference to the architectural style adopted for the design, whether contemporary or historicist. The few exceptions will include new development forming part of or adjoining an important architectural set piece of recognised quality, which must be taken into account.

Whilst the character and appearance of conservation areas should always be given full weight in planning decisions, the objective of preservation can be achieved either by development which makes a positive contribution to an area’s character or appearance, or by development which leaves character and appearance unharmed”. (PPG15 4.20)

Setting of Listed Buildings

“In considering whether to grant planning permission for development which affects a listed building, the local planning authority or, in the case may be, the Secretary of State shall have special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possess”. (Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.

Design Criteria

The Bristol Local Plan aims to ensure that … “new buildings within a historic context are well designed, following common sense rules of scale, alignment, massing and proportion, and that they utilise materials appropriate to the locality. It is essential that these new buildings are sensitive and responsive to the character of their locality”. “Local planning authorities should reject poor designs, particularly where their decisions are supported by clear plan policies or supplementary design guidance which has been subjected to public consultation and adopted by the local planning authority. Poor designs may include those inappropriate to their context, for example those clearly out of scale or incompatible with their surroundings”. (PPG1 (17). Local planning authorities should not attempt to impose a particular architectural taste or style arbitrarily. It is, however, proper to seek to promote or reinforce local distinctiveness particularly where this is supported by clear plan policies or supplementary design guidance. Local planning authorities should not concern themselves with matters of detailed design except where such matters have a significant effect on the character or quality of the area, including neighbouring buildings. Particular weight should be given to the impact of development on existing buildings and on the character of areas recognised for their landscape or townscape value, such as National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Conservation Areas. (PPG1 18)
“Many conservation areas include gap sites or buildings that make no positive contribution to, or indeed detract from, the character or appearance of the area; their replacement should be a stimulus to imagination, high quality design, and seen as an opportunity to enhance the area. What is more important is not that new buildings should directly imitate earlier styles, but that they should be designed with respect for their context, as a part of a larger whole which has a well-established character and appearance of its own.” (PPG 4.17)

Design Criteria:

  • The height of new building should reflect that of surrounding properties. Where existing heights are varied, new development should remain within the range of heights of historic neighbouring properties.
  • Within the existing building groups new facades should respond to the rhythm, scale and proportion of neighbouring properties.
  • In traditional streets in conservation areas, new development should respect the established building line.
  • The density and architectural style of new development should respect the scale, form, grain and materials of the historic context of its conservation area.

Sustainable Development

“The Government has committed itself to the concept of sustainable development … Yet the historic environment of England is all-pervasive and it cannot in practice be preserved unchanged. We must ensure that the means are available to identify what is special in the historic environment; to define through the development plan system its capacity for change; and when proposals come forward to assess their impact on the historic environment and give full weight alongside other considerations.” (PPG 15 1.3)

Conservation Policies

  • New Buildings in Conservation Areas:
    “The council will seek to maintain and strengthen the traditional form of individual streets and ensure that new development is in keeping with its surroundings, both in character and appearance. As with traditional buildings within the historic street scene new schemes should contain both the individuality of the designer and the need to respond to context. The best solutions are based on a knowledge of the locality together with an attention to detail and craft tradition”.
  • (Less formal or informal building groups):
    “Where building groups are less formal or lesser architectural merit, building forms other than replicas are appropriate provided they complement and contribute to the character of the area. The special architectural features of the surrounding buildings need to be analyzed and their details reflected in the new proposals”.

Building Elements

  • Roof forms and materials should reflect the tradition of the locality; the use of roofing materials of similar profile, colour, and texture will be required to relate to historic surroundings.
  • Materials are a fundamental component of the character of conservation areas and thus new development will be expected to respect, retain and strengthen this tradition reflecting the predominant natural material.
  • Distinctive patterns of building give a special identity to Bristol and should be considered in the treatment of facades to new buildings.
  • Windows in new buildings should reflect the proportions found in the traditional buildings of the locality; and be in balance with the design as a whole.

National Planning Policy Statements

Planning Policy Statements (PPS) contain policies on land-use and other planning matters, for example telecommunications or the built heritage.
They set out the main planning considerations that the Department takes into account in assessing proposals for the various forms of development and are relevant to the preparation of development plans. They are also material to decisions on individual planning appeals.
The guiding principle that the Department observes in making decisions on planning applications is set out in

  • PPS 1: General Principles. This states that development should be permitted, having regard to the development plan and all other material considerations, unless it would cause demonstrable harm to interests of acknowledged importance. Issued for Public Consultation
  • PPS 2 (Draft) Revised: Natural Heritage
  • Policy HS 3 (Amended) Travellers Accommodation
  • PPS 2: Planning and Nature Conservation
  • PPS 3: Access, Movement and Parking
  • PPS 3 (Clarification): Access, Movement and Parking
  • PPS 4: Planning and Economic Development
  • PPS 5: Retailing, Town Centres and Commercial Leisure Developments
  • PPS 6: Planning, Archaeology and The Built Heritage
  • PPS 6 (Addendum): Areas of Townscape Character
  • PPS 7: Quality Residential Environments
  • PPS 7 (Addendum): Residential Extensions and Alterations
  • PPS 7 (Addendum): Safeguarding the Character of Established Residential Areas
  • PPS 8: Open Space, Sport and Outdoor Recreation
  • PPS 9: The Enforcement of Planning Control
  • PPS 10: Telecommunications
  • PPS 11: Planning and Waste Management
  • PPS 12: Housing in Settlements
  • PPS 13: Transportation and Land Use
  • PPS 15: Planning and Flood Risk
  • PPS 16 (Draft): Tourism
  • PPS 17: Control of Outdoor Advertisements
  • PPS 18: Renewable Energy
  • PPS 21: Sustainable Development in the Countryside
  • PPS 23 (Draft): Enabling Development
  • PPS 24 (Draft): Economic Considerations

Bristol Local Plan (December 1997)

List of 1997 Adopted Local Plan Policies still saved following adoption of the Core Strategy (June 2011) Bristol City Council adopted the Core Strategy on 21 June 2011. From adoption, some of the policies of the 1997 Adopted Bristol Local Plan that were previously “saved” for future use have now fallen away. However, 86 Local Plan policies remain saved pending the production further development plan documents.

The Local Plan policies listed in the tables below are still saved and can still be used alongside the adopted Core Strategy to determine planning applications.
Those superceded by the Core Strategy are indicated in red.
Built Environment:

  • B1 A distinction is made between “landmark” and “background” buildings. Background buildings are required to respond to the local context. Takes account of:
    • local context
    • accessibility
    • safety and security
    • layout and form
    • building exteriors and elevations
    • landscape treatment and environmental works
    • environmental impact
  • B2 addresses local context and sets out 4 criteria:
    • Landform
    • Scale and proportion
    • Detailed design
    • Retention and enhancement of existing urban spaces
    Proposals which cause harm to the character and/or appearance of an area or visual impact of historic buildings, views or landmarks will not be permitted.
  • B3 relates to accessible environment
    • incorporate retention or provision of important routes and linkages
    • material alterations to publicly accessible buildings and new site layouts permitted where they accomodate access and facilities for disable people
  • B4 relates to safe and secure environments
  • B5 Aspires to a high standard of design for new development. Consideration should be given to close and far views of the site, and the use of appropriate materials.
  • B6 relates to building exteriors and elevations which are designed to a high standard
    • impact of development from distant and close views
    • existing and new skylines
    • appropriate use of materials
  • B7 where buildings require creation or improvement of a setting in order to assimilate them into a street or wider context they should include a landscape treatment which
    • is planned as integral part of development
    • reflects the character of locality and surrounding buildings and way in which area will be used
  • B8 criteria for new housing- account taken of
    • effects upon townscape, character and identity of the area
    • environmental considerations
    • highway considerations
    • provision and visual impact of parking
    • privacy and overlooking
    • safety and security
    • provision of public open space
    • access and facilities for disabled people
    • need for and provision of landscape treatments
    • building design and materials
    • servicing of dwellings
  • B9 house extensions and alterations
  • B10 shopfront guidelines
  • B11 illuminated adevising signs
  • B12 outdoor advertising hoardings
  • B13 general principles relating to preservation of Conservation Areas and Listed buildings features and settings. Ensure historic buildings and areas are adequately protected, and that new buildings within a historic context are well designed following common sense rules of scale, alignment, massing and proportion and utilise materials appropriate to the locality
  • B14 criteria for Conservation Area status
  • B15 Advice on Streets and open space design issues:
    • Townscape and landscape features that contribute to the character or appearance of streets and open spaces within conservation areas should be preserved or enhanced.
    • Development will not be permitted where it would unacceptably harm landscapes, open spaces and gardens that contribute to the character of the area.
    • The introduction of car parking into areas historically used as gardens and forecourts will not be permitted where it erodes either the character of the street and/or the setting of historic buildings
  • B16 New buildings
  • B17 Extensions to buildings
  • B18 Alterations to Traditional buildings
  • B19 Listed buildings: alterations
  • B20 Listed buildings: urgent repair and demolition
  • B21 Demolition: Listed buildings and Buildings in Conservation Areas
  • B22 Sites of Archaeological Significance

Management of the Environment

  • ME02 Pollution: Location and Design of Developments
  • ME04 Controlling the Impact of Noise
  • ME05 Protection of Groundwater Supplies
  • ME06 Contaminated Land
  • ME07 Water Industry Investment
  • ME08 Coastal Area
  • ME10 Development Adjacent to Rivers and Watercourses
  • ME13 Development on Unstable Land
  • ME14 Public Utilities

Natural Environment

  • NE01 Open Space
  • NE02 Landscape Features
  • NE03 Trees and Woodlands (including tree planting and the Community Forest)
  • NE05 Sites of Nature Conservation Interest
  • NE06 The Wildlife Network
  • NE07 Local Nature Reserves
  • NE09 Historic Landscapes
  • NE11 New Development: Natural Environment Considerations
  • NE13 Green Belt: Boundary


  • M01 Transport Development Control Criteria
  • M02 Development in Traffic Free Areas
  • M03 Public Transport Provision for Large Scale Developments
  • M06 Public Transport: Bus and Coach Station
  • M07 Public Transport: Alternative Coach Station
  • M08 Public Transport: Coach Facilities
  • M09 Public Transport : Temple Meads
  • M10 Public Transport: Rail Improvements and Rail Stations
  • M11 Public Transport: Additional Rail Stations
  • M12 Public Transport: Protection of Ex-Rail Corridors
  • M13 Public Transport: Rapid Transit Safeguarded Routes
  • M14 Parking: Commuter Parking
  • M15 Parking: Commuted Payments
  • M16 Cycling and Pedestrians
  • M18 Freight: Rail Freight Facilities
  • M19 Highway Network: New Road – Environmental and Economic Effects
  • M20 Highway Network: Improvements to Primary Road Network
  • M21 Highway Network: Redcliffe Way
  • M23 Highway Network: Minor Road Improvements
  • M24 Highway Network: Improvements


  • EC02 Promoting Growth: Industry and Warehousing
  • EC03 Promoting Growth: B1 Development
  • EC04 Protection: Existing Employment Opportunities
  • EC05 Protection: Industrial Sites and Premises
  • EC06 Protection and Promotion: Small Businesses


  • S03 Opportunities for Expansion
  • S05 Frontages: Primary
  • S06 Frontages: Secondary
  • S08 Control of Food and Drink Uses
  • S10 Out of Centre Shopping: Non-Food Retail Locations
  • S11 Markets and Car Boot Sales
  • S12 Safeguarding Existing Market Sites


  • H03 Sites Identified for Development
  • H04 Backland Sites
  • H08 Upper Floors Over Shops and Offices
  • H10 Non self-contained bedsitting rooms, shared accommodation and hostels
  • H11 Residential Care Homes and Nursing Homes
  • H13 Travelling Showground People
  • H14 Houseboats

Community Services

  • CS01 Protection of Community Service Land and Buildings
  • CS02 Development of New Neighbourhood Community Facilities
  • CS03 Community Centres, Youth Centres and Libraries
  • CS05 Sites for New School Buildings
  • CS09 New Hospital Facilities
  • CS13 New Crematoria and Cemetery Facilities


  • L01 Open Space: Protection of Playing Fields and Recreation Grounds
  • L03 Greenways: Walking and Cycling
  • L08 Sports Stadia
  • L11 Tourism: Leisure Development

City Centre

  • CC03 Development Opportunities
  • CC04 The University of Bristol
  • CC05 Hospital Services
  • CC06 Coach Parking Facilities
  • CC07 Pedestrian Links
  • CC08 Streets for People
  • CC10 Water Frontages (Ferry Services)

Keep Bristol Tidy! What is an s215?

BCC”s Planning Enforcement approach to this is informal to start with. The first stage is to write to the owner and enter negotiation to have the property/land tidied. If this is unsuccessful they can issue an s215 notice.

From a community point of view, tidy gardens and land mean an area looks well cared for making people feel safe in that neighbourhood. If untidy sites are left, they become worse and the area starts to feel neglected and unsafe. Untidy sites are rarely dangerous to public health but they will be an eyesore, which means it is detrimental to the local amenity. These are the ones that we want you to draw to our attention.

The council can serve an “amenity” notice on the owner of any land or building which is in an unreasonably untidy condition and it considers has an adverse affect on the amenity of the area. This is done under section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended). This notice is used to maintain and improve the quality of the environment, to assist in tackling dereliction and retaining land in a productive use as well as contribute to the regeneration of an area and respond positively to public concerns. Many of the problems of untidy land and buildings are relatively easy to put right for example:

  • blocked gutters and down pipes – water ingress will eventually destroy a building through frost and rot,
  • fallen fences,
  • dilapidated walls / broken windows / graffiti,
  • land with fly tipping, industrial or demolition waste,
  • builders rubble,
  • dumped sofas/furniture,
  • abandoned vehicles,
  • dumped tyres or
  • overgrown gardens.

A notice can be served on the owner or occupier of any private land or building which is in an unreasonably untidy condition and which the Council consider has an adverse affect on the amenity of the area. The Notice will specify what needs to be done to correct the situation within a given timescale. It is an offence not to comply with the notice within the specified period. If the requirements of the notice are not carried out in the required timescale the landowner could be fined and have a criminal record. There is a right of appeal against a notice issued under this section to the Magistrates Court. Failure to comply with the requirements of the notice constitutes a criminal offence subject on conviction to a fine not exceeding £1,000. The Council is also empowered to enter land to carry out the works specified in the notice and reclaim costs from the land owner – usually by means of a land charge on the land or property.

So, what should you do? Council Officers will not necessarily know of every derelict and untidy site, nor of the range of public concern. Do not leave it to someone else. A single report can be ignored as minor. A dozen reports on the same property requires action.