Tower Hamlets is responsible for tree and woodland management, registering listed buildings, overseeing all its conservation areas and promoting wider initiatives for a sustainable environment.

The council also provides pre-application advice and determines planning applications which affect listed buildings, conservation areas, green spaces and tree preservation, ensuring there are no breaches of planning permission.

The council has the power to designate an area as a conservation area. These are areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance. Read about our conservation strategy.

Current consultations

Driffield Road and Medway conservation areas consultation

The council is considering taking a more permissive approach to mansard roof extensions within the Driffield Road and Medway conservation areas. To enable this to happen the council must find ways to mitigate any harm that would be caused to the historic environment. When the matter was considered by cabinet on the 6 December 2016, the Mayor took the decision to explore measures that will help to ensure that proposals for mansard roof extensions also deliver sufficient public benefit to outweigh this harm. The current consultation sets out detailed guidance regarding possible façade improvements and public realm enhancements and includes measures for the delivery of these enhancements.  These proposals are being consulted on from 7 April to 14 May 2017. 


Recent consultation

The consultation on the revised character appraisals and management guidelines for Driffield Road and Medway conservation areas has now closed.

 Officers have carefully considered all of the responses that were received in relation to this consultation.  In summary, 55 responses were received, of which 42 were in favour of a more permissive approach to mansard roof extensions and 13 were against.  There are a total of 1,750 residential properties in the two conservation areas.

Officers also carried out a detailed assessment of the potential implications for adopting a more permissive approach to mansard roof extensions.  This assessment concluded that adopting a more permissive approach to mansard roof extensions would have the potential to cause significant harm to the character and appearance of the two conservation areas.  It was also concluded, in accordance with national planning policy, that there would be insufficient public benefit arising from the approach to outweigh the harm caused. 

The outcomes of the consultation and the findings of the assessment were presented to Cabinet on Monday 6 December.  Officers recommended not to proceed with proposals for a more permissive approach to mansard roof extensions due to the unmitigated harmful impacts that would arise.  However, an alternative approach, whereby applications for mansard roof extensions may be considered favourably where they deliver public benefits in the form of enhancement works and off-site contributions to help mitigate the harm that would be caused was also presented. 

Cabinet agreed to proceed with this alternative approach on the basis that further work be carried out to establish a mechanism to secure a package of contributions, and then carry out a public consultation to seek views on whether or not to adopt this mechanism.  Cabinet will reconsider the principle of mansard roof extensions in the Driffield Road and Medway conservation areas alongside the relevant measures for mitigating harm in June 2017.  In the meantime, applications for mansard roof extensions in the Driffield Road and Medway conservation areas will continue to be determined on their own merits in accordance with current planning policy.

The Cabinet report and decision can be viewed here.

Details of this and other closed consultations can be viewed on the previous consultations page

Previous conservation area and mansard roof consultation

Guidance for roof and rear extensions in 8 conservation areas and accompanying guidelines for mansard roofs.

To assist residents wanting to extend their homes the council had prepared draft guidance covering extensions to the roof and to the rear of residential properties, in the form of an addendum to the existing guidance for eight of its conservation areas, Chapel House, Driffield Road, Fairfield Road, Jesus Hospital, Medway, Tredegar Square, Victoria Park and York Square conservation areas. Supporting this guidance, the council has also prepared a draft guidance note for mansard roof extensions in conservation areas. These documents were the subject of a consultation between 23 November 2015 and 18 January 2016. Details of previous consultations are outlined on the previous consultation page.

The consultation ended on Monday 18 January 2016 and officers have carefully considered all the responses that were received and presented findings to the mayor for his consideration.  Details of the results of the public consultation can be found here.   

The mayor reviewed consultation responses and other feedback received with regard to the recent public consultation exercises relating to residential extensions within the Chapel House, Driffield Road, Fairfield Road, Jesus Hospital, Medway, Tredegar Square, Victoria Park and York Square conservation areas. Based on this review, the Mayor took the view that the draft addendums relating to Chapel House, Fairfield Road, Jesus Hospital, Tredegar Square, Victoria Park and York Square conservation areas should be adopted, including any minor factual amendments as necessary by summer 2016. Addendums were adopted by the Cabinet in July 2016. Updated conservation area character appraisals and management guidelines for these six areas can be found here.

Planning applications for roof extensions in these areas will be determined on their own merit in accordance with the council’s current planning policies.

In respect of the Driffield Road and Medway conservation areas the mayor’s view is that the draft addendums are revised with a view to a more permissive approach to roof extensions. Further detailed design work will be undertaken to explore opportunities for roof extensions in these two conservation areas. Public consultation with regard to amended conservation area appraisals and design guidelines for these two areas is planned for the summer 2016 with a view to adoption in autumn 2016/winter 2017. Any planning applications submitted at the present time will be determined on their own merits in accordance with the council’s current planning policies.

Conservation Strategy

We consulted on ‘Tower Hamlets Draft Local Plan 2031: Managing Growth and Sharing the Benefits’ (Regulation 18) which set out a proposed vision, objectives and planning policies to positively plan and manage development in the borough up to 2031.  To support the Draft Local Plan we had updated our current Conservation Strategy.  The updated Conservation Strategy forms part of the Draft Local Plan Evidence Base.

This consultation ran between 11 November 2016 and 2 January 2017.

The Draft Local Plan and supporting documents can be viewed and commented on our consultation portal.

Public consultation on draft Selection Criteria and Nomination Process

As part of the current public consultation process relating to the Draft Local Plan (including the draft Conservation Strategy), the Council is also consulted on the draft Local List Selection Criteria and a draft nomination process for additions to the Local List.  From 11 November 2016 to 31 January 2017 consultation was carried out on the draft Selection Criteria and nomination process.

Local List Selection Criteria and Nomination Process

Tower Hamlets historic environment record and other useful sites

The council maintains an historic environment record providing access to information relating to the local historic environment. Information is currently held in planning records.

In addition, information is also held at the council's Local History Library and Archives. Access and opening hours for the library can be seen at the Local History Library and Archives. More information about the collections relating to the historic environment can be found on the Idea Store website.

The national amenity societies and other organisations also provide useful websites covering the historic environment. Each site contains information on the protection and care of old buildings and places.

Historic buildings and places at risk

English Heritage has been collecting data on historic buildings at risk for more than a decade, and publish a database for each local authority area including Grade I, II* and II listed buildings, scheduled monuments and conservation areas that are seen to be under threat. This is used as a pro-active tool to secure the repair of buildings by English Heritage, the council and others.

View the current Heritage at Risk register. The long-term trends have been positive for Tower Hamlets, with buildings coming off the register each year. In particular, the public attention created by the Heritage at Risk programme has been a major factor in allowing many to be taken off the list. 

For further information on heritage at risk in the borough or individual entries on the register, please call 020 7364 5009.

Historic Places of Worship support scheme

Historic Places of Worship at Risk are included on the Heritage at Risk Register. Working with English Heritage, the council is committed to reducing the number of historic places of worship that are included on the register, to ensure a sustainable future for these buildings.

The council is running an Historic Places of Worship Support Scheme in partnership with English Heritage to build the capacity of faith communities in the borough to conserve and renew their historic places of worship. Two aims of the scheme are to provide a central resource signposting communities to sources of advice and funding and to establish an outreach programme with training and support for all communities involved with historic places of worship.

For further information about the scheme, and to see if your place of worship qualifies for support, please go to the Historic Places of Worship page.

Historic building grants

Under Section 57 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, the council can make discretionary historic building grants towards the cost of repairs to local historic buildings. The council awards grant assistance to listed  buildings in community ownership, buildings ‘at risk’ or where there is clear public benefit arising from the works. The annual budget is limited, and grants are awarded from April each year, until the funds are exhausted. If you would like further information on the Historic Building Grant Scheme please use the contact details below.

Conservation & Design Advisory Panel (CADAP)

The CADAP draws on the experience of a wide range of local volunteers who give independent specialist advice on conservation and design matters related to proposals for new buildings and places in the borough. Membership is made up of those with knowledge of the creation of new buildings and places, including architecture, heritage, landscape, urban design, sustainability, regeneration and town planning. Design experts in disciplines from access, public realm and the arts are also represented on the panel.

The government’s new National Planning Policy Framework sets out in Section 62 that the council as a Local Planning Authority should have local design review arrangements in place to provide assessment and support to ensure high standards of design in new development.

Tower Hamlets Conservation and Design Advisory Panel has been running for over 30 years and works with the council’s planning officers and applicants seeking to develop in Tower Hamlets – to give independent advice on the planning of a wide range of new developments in the borough.

For more information about the panel please contact or call 020 7364 5373. You can also write to:

Tower Hamlets Conservation and Design Advisory Panel Plan Delivery Team
Directorate of Development and Renewal
Mulberry Place
5 Clove Crescent
E14 2BG

Historic town centres

The council is working to improve town centres in partnership with other stakeholders. The Town Centres Spatial Strategy outlines this work and related priorities in local town centres.

Tower Hamlets Green Grid Strategy

The council has produced an innovative Green Grid Strategy to bring together a combination of spaces and routes to encourage people to walk, cycle and enjoy the local environment and to assist in tackling climate change, enhance biodiversity as well as promoting regeneration and healthy living. Our Green Grid Strategy  sets out how this will be delivered with the individual sites shown on our interactive maps page and our Aldgate Connections Study identifies improvements  to walking routes and open green spaces in the west of the borough.