For ease of reference, summaries of the current view on some of the topics most frequently submitted for planning permission are outlined below. More detailed guidance can be found in:
- Ealing Council’s Bedford Park Conservation Area Management Plan which outlines the overall policy approach and the details for each topic covered under the plan
- The Society’s Technical Notes, which provide useful information on brickwork, fences, walls and gates, roofing, fireplaces, ironmongery, joinery and other details.
Ealing Council lists current threats to the Conservation Area as including the removal of boundary walls, hedges or fences; the replacement of boundaries by unsympathetic gates and brick and metal enclosures; unsuitable and out-of-scale extensions including dormer windows and front porches; the conversion of green-space front or side gardens to hard-standings; unsuitable window and door replacements or other features that affect the parts of houses visible from a highway.
If you wish to make any changes, which might have an impact on these aspects you will need to apply for planning permission.
When adapting a listed building to 21st century living, details such as windows, brickwork, fireplaces and plasterwork should be respected as an important part of the property’s historic fabric.
The turned timber balustrades to balconies and terraces are one of the most distinctive features of Bedford Park. If a replacement is needed, care should be taken to replicate the original details based on the “standard” design for newels, balusters and handrails. In some cases height may need to be adjusted to suit individual cases and contemporary regulation. More details are in our Technical Notes.
When Jonathan Carr began creating Bedford Park in 1875 he specified that houses should not have dark, unhealthy basements and that servants would be accommodated in airy attics. So constructing a basement goes against the ethos of how the garden suburb was planned and constructed.
Planning rules require that basements have light, but the light-wells traditionally used in basements alter the external appearance of a building, while access to a lower floor will also change the interior layout. This view was upheld by a government planning inspector, following an appeal by a homeowner against the rejection of an application to put in a basement to a listed building.
Cellars, which need no external light source, are less of a problem, and the addition of basements to unlisted single-family residences may be accepted provided the design does not adversely affect the character of the conservation area. More details are included on page 14 of Ealing Council’s Bedford Park Conservation Area Management Plan.
This Planning Inspector’s Report refusing an application to put in a basement in a listed building in Bedford Park gives further information on basements.
Before Bedford Park became a conservation area in 1967 some brickwork was painted or plastered over. This is no longer allowed, but as most houses were constructed with local, soft red bricks they need regular maintenance and few have escaped re-pointing.
Our Technical Notes describe in detail how to repair or replace brickwork, including guidance on pointing and the potential risks of cleaning brick.
If you want to carry out work on brickwork on a listed building, the local authorities would expect to approve samples of the actual materials and the pointing style as a condition for consent.
Crossovers and hard-standing
Originally Bedford Park front gardens included flowers, shrubs and, where large enough, a lawn. The introduction of more “easy care” gravel or paving reduces the green suburban feel of the area and homeowners are encouraged, wherever possible, to combine a mixture of hard landscaping, which is permeable, and plants.
Conversion of green-space front or side gardens is considered one of the main threats affecting the features of houses fronting the highway. Local authorities will resist all applications for the formation of vehicle hard-standings in front gardens.
Permission is required where a front garden is used for parking in order to have the kerb removed and pavement sloped for access – these are known as crossovers. Appropriate materials, in terms of colour, pattern and finish will be required and any hard-standing needs to be permeable so rainwater can sink in rather than it flooding. Although many existing crossovers were approved several decades ago, they are now discouraged.
Ealing Council provides some guidance in their notes on planning new garden space.
Dormer windows and roof lights
Applications for the addition of dormers or roof windows where they would be visible from a public highway or open space are likely to be rejected by the local authorities.
The Ealing conservation plan states that windows may be permitted in the rear roof slopes of listed and unlisted houses provided “they are subservient in size and scale” to the overall slope of the roof, and they are in keeping with the house. However, stricter criteria apply for listed buildings.
Roof lights on the rear slopes of unlisted buildings are required to lie flush with the plane of the tiles. On listed houses they are likely to be refused. More details are in our Technical Notes.
In order to protect the character of the conservation area, the local authorities normally resist any application for the extension of a house on the side that is fronting a public highway or open space. Side extensions may occasionally be acceptable, but will be assessed against their overall effect on the character of the conservation area. More details are covered in pages 11-12 of Ealing Council’s Bedford Park Conservation Area Management Plan.
Many residents assume that the only authentic front fence is a white palisade sitting on a low brick wall. Yet early lithographs and photographs show the original estate had a variety of ways in which properties marked their boundary with the street. As a result, the Society encourages owners to look at what their property might have had originally and maintain the appeal of the variety of fences rather than uniformity.
The first houses had a mixture of low close-boarded front fences with simple gates, higher close board fences with oak posts – often on street corners where more privacy was required – and palisade fences with white painted posts and spindles with cills sitting on low brick walls. Some posts and chains were also used although brick walls appeared rarely.
If you are part of a terrace or semi-detached pair, it makes sense to match your neighbours’ fence and gate.
All properties in the conservation area need planning permission to erect or replace fences and gates. Properties outside the conservation are also need planning permission for fences and gates more that one meter in height or adjacent to a public highway.
Apart from advising on which type of fence would be historically and proportionally correct, the Society has drawn up specifications on aspects such as the height of walls, the type of bricks and mortar to be used, along with the style and materials. More details are in our Technical Notes.
Interior items, such as fireplaces, banisters, internal doors and architraves. Skirtings, dados, picture rails and ceiling mouldings are subject to the same level of protection as the exterior of each listed house. This needs to be taken into account if you are considering carrying out any work internally. More details are in our Technical Notes.
Loft extensions for unlisted houses are generally acceptable to the local authorities, subject to evidence that the design will not adversely affect the character of the conservation area. However, the addition of a loft extension to a listed building is likely to require considerable modification to the internal layout and detailing, which will require listed building and planning consent. More details are covered on page 10 of Ealing Council’s Bedford Park Conservation Area Management Plan.
The tiles in Bedford Park’s roofs are a distinctive red and replacements should match the original colour and “camber” as closely as possible. More information about the availability of appropriate tiles, fixing and repairing flat roofs can be found in our Technical Notes.
Satellite dishes are permitted so long as they cannot easily be seen from the streets or other public parts of the area. However, given that the conservation area has cable services, many residents find this sufficient without needing to install intrusive dishes. More details can be found on page 13 of Ealing Council’s Bedford Park Conservation Area Management Plan.
Approval is dependent on where they are located. In keeping with our policy of supporting ways to reduce our carbon footprint, the Society is happy to see solar panels installed where they are not visible from the public highway or by neighbours, for example in some circumstances on flat roofs. New technology may in time offer appropriate new solutions, such as making replica roof tiles act as solar panels.
The mature trees in the Bedford Park provide an important part of the conservation area’s special character and you need permission to carry out work on a tree in your garden. It is an offence to deliberately damage or destroy a tree in a conservation area by cutting down, topping, lopping, uprooting or by any other means without notifying the local planning authority.
The procedure to be followed is outlined in:
Ealing Council’s guidance on privately owned trees.
Hounslow Council’s conservation area advice.
There is also information on trees and tree management in our “Issues’ section.
Wheelie bin screening
The visual impact of wheelie bins on the suburb has been very significant. In many roads, residents have no choice but to keep them permanently in their front gardens and have asked for suggestions to minimise their impact on the street and in gardens.
Natural screening with plants or trellis structures with climbers may be an option or, even simpler, positioning large pot plants, which can be placed on wheeled stands. You can also purchase wheelie bin covers with patterns that blend in with garden foliage.
There are various screens or shed-type structures on the market that might be suitable although many are too large for smaller gardens and houses with low front windows. For listed houses, Listed Building Consent should be obtained for any screening structures. All other houses in the conservation area need planning permission for anything that affects the front elevation or street side of the house, so permission is required for a permanent screening structure to be erected in front gardens. Houses in the wider Bedford Park area only need permission if the structure is part of the front fence and is more than 1 metre high. If in doubt or for more information, contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bedford Park houses have a variety of window styles, from casement to sash, often with glazing bars. The local authorities are likely to resist any applications to depart from original designs, details or paint colour in order to protect the character of the conservation area. The installation of external security shutters or grilles over windows or external doors are discouraged.
When it comes to double glazing, government regulations on energy saving exempt historic buildings because modern systems cannot replicate exactly the materials and appearance of older windows. The Society is seeking a solution, which could meet all criteria, and is continually evaluating new ideas. Installation of secondary glazing internally to windows is acceptable in principle, although care should be taken to make fixings against original fabric reversible. Where this isn’t possible, Historic England’s advice is to use shutters, blinds and heavy curtains to keep out draughts. More information is contained in their publication on secondary glazing.
The rules only apply to the listed part of a building. If you have a new extension, double-glazing to government-set industry standards can be installed if not visible or near an existing opening.
Owners lucky enough to have original stained glass are encouraged to cherish it and consult a specialist for any necessary repair or replacement.