Conservation areas

Conservation areas are protected by law due to their special or historic architectural character and appearance. It's our role to ensure that character and appearance of conservation areas are preserved and enhanced through the planning process.

There are 48 conservation areas located across the borough.  

 You can use our interactive Southwark maps to see a map of conservation areas in Southwark.

What does a conservation area designation mean in practice


You will need planning permission to demolish a building in a conservation area. It's a criminal offense to undertake demolition without permission from the council. If demolition is being considered, contact us well in advance to find out what is needed and if so, what information is required to be provided with a planning application. There's a presumption against approving the demolition of buildings that positively contribute to the character or appearance of a conservation area.

The investigation of reports of unauthorised demolition is a high priority for us. Contact us immediately if you believe that a building, or major part of a building, is being demolished without consent. You can contact us by using our e-form Planning Enforcement Investigation, by email or phone 020 7525 5403

Alterations and extensions

Some alterations or extensions to buildings that would not normally require planning permission, such as minor roof alterations, changing windows or satellite dishes require planning permission in conservation areas. Listed building consent will also be required for listed buildings. See our Residential Design Standards SPD for further guidance.

New development

Any new development must clearly demonstrate how it would preserve or enhance the character or appearance of a conservation area. You may need to provide additional information showing how a proposal will relate to the conservation area. This can mean the submission of elevations of adjacent buildings, full details of the proposal and examples of materials and colours.


Six weeks notice must be given in writing to us before any work on trees is undertaken in a conservation area. Works include the proposed lopping, topping or felling of a tree. For further information, see our trees page.

Advertisements and signage

Some advertisements or signage that do not normally require permission require permission if located in a conservation area. Greater standards and controls will be applied to preserve and enhance the character of the area.

What are conservation area appraisals and management plans

Conservation area appraisals establish the rationale why an area is considered to be of special architectural or historic interest. They set out a clear indication of the council's approach to an area’s preservation and enhancement, and are used by the council in assessing the design of development proposals within a conservation area. They may be used as a material consideration when decisions are made on planning applications.

We have embarked on a rolling programme of producing appraisals for the borough's 48 conservation areas. This will be a long-term project. Some appraisals are already in draft form and have been adopted while awaiting their final edit. Others are adopted for the purposes of consultation and are available for comment by local communities.

We also work with local communities to produce Conservation Area Management Plans (CAMPs) that set out approaches to managing the future of our conservation areas.

Article 4 directions

The Sunray Estate conservation area is covered by an Article 4 Direction that brings certain forms of normally permitted development under planning control. This means that planning permission will be required for alterations to buildings and other changes.

New conservation areas

We have a legal obligation to periodically consider which parts of the borough have special architectural or historic interest and should be preserved or enhanced by designating them as conservation areas. Further information on proposed conservation areas is located here.

Conservation Area Advisory Group (CAAG)

Southwark’s Conservation Area Advisory Group (CAAG) is formed from representatives of local historical, civic and amenity societies. The group provides regular guidance on planning applications that may affect the character or appearance of our conservation areas.

Page last updated: 11 July 2024


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