Living in a Conservation Area

Article 4

Householders can normally make minor alterations to their homes without requiring planning permission from the local planning authority, under ‘permitted development’ rights. However, Local planning authorities have the power to remove some of these permitted development rights by making an Article 4 Direction, as in Wolverton.

Article 4 Directions are introduced where there is a threat to the special interest, character and appearance of an area through the loss of form, features, details and materials that would otherwise be allowed under permitted development rights. This is usually in conservation areas or other areas of special interest. The aim is to protect the heritage significance of these important places by controlling small scale works that would individually or collectively erode or cause harm to it.

The placing of an Article 4 Direction does not necessarily prevent all alterations to the exterior the property. It does, however, ensure that proposed changes accord with the objective of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of the conservation area. For more information on Article 4 and Wolverton's conservation area, please visit MK City Council's website.

Making Alterations to Your Property

For any further information or specific questions please contact MK City Council’s Development Control Section (or the HERS officer) who will advise you on whether planning permission is needed for alterations or other works. The Conservation Officer can advise you on how to repair listed and unlisted traditional buildings in order to protect the original features and character of the building.


Conservation Not Preservation

The Article 4 direction covers roof tiles, windows, doors and door surrounds, chimneys, fences, porches, terracotta mouldings and even render (to name a few). However, windows and doors make up the main body of enquiries to WGTC so that’s what I’ll concentrate on here.

The aim of the Conservation Area is not to force people to live as our ancestors did in draughty rooms with coal fires and outside toilets. The aim is to preserve the appearance of the area as a whole when built. This leads to: 

  • If the windows or doors are original, they shall, if at all possible, be repaired or restored. If restoration or repair is not possible, they shall be replaced like-for-like. [Note, like-for-like means just that; an identical copy of the original. Same material (wood), same number of panes, same opening style (Sash), same ornamentation (for example “horns”), same dimensions]
  • If the windows or doors are not original, they can be replaced. There is however, a strong preference that the replacement moves closer to the original Victorian appearance. This means that replacing uPVC with wood or replacing awning or casement windows with sash are more likely to get permission. Replacing a uPVC sash with a uPVC awning is not.

The original designs are no less practical now than they were in the 1900s. Sash windows were used because they were simple (look at the “hinge” on a typical modern uPVC unit), practical and did not extend outwards when open. The latter is particularly important for the ground floor of houses opening on to the street where outward opening windows form a hazard to pedestrians! Wood was (and is) practical. Treated properly it lasts for years (witness the number of 100 year old windows still around!) and looks less harsh than modern materials. It’s also easier to repair after minor damage.

One of the most important details are the “horns” which can be seen on many windows. In the late 1800s it became possible to make larger panes of glass; constructing the wooden frames to hold a few, large, panes instead of lots of smaller ones meant that the frames became weaker. The Victorian solution was to strengthen the corners by extending the wood in an ornate pattern or “horn”. Because of the look, many manufacturers now offer Victorian decoration and horns in replacement windows; both wood and uPVC. In searching for new windows, it’s these little details which make permission more likely to be granted.

Councillor Adrian Moss

Chair of Planning – Wolverton & Greenleys Town Council

Neighbourhood Plan

In November 2014, Wolverton & Greenleys Town Council submitted their draft Neighbourhood Plan to Milton Keynes Council, in accordance with Regulation 15 of the Neighbourhood Plans (General) Regulations 2012.


The Wolverton Town Centre Neighbourhood Plan is the result of three years work by the Town Council and Future Wolverton. As part of the preparation of the Plan, local people, businesses and community and voluntary organisations were engaged. The Plan includes policies for the future redevelopment of the Agora site and the Railway Work site; general town centre development; town centre diversity; supporting street markets; supporting and promoting small, independent trade; and shopfront design, advertising and security. The Final Plan was adopted by Milton Keynes Council on 15th September 2015.

Helpful Links

Planning Committee at MK City Council

MK City Council Planning Portal- search for planning applications and appeals 

MK City Council Planning Policy 

MK City Council Planning Applications- information on how to apply for planning permission 

Planning Enquiries Contact Information

Telephone 01908 252358 or email the Planning Enquiries team.