What is a Conservation Area?

  • Conservation Areas were introduced after 1967 and there are now 10,000 in the UK.
  • The process of designating a Conservation Area is managed by the 1990 Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act and is usually handled by local authorities, although English Heritage can get involved.
  • Their purpose is to protect and enhance areas of special architectural or historic interest and place additional development control on new works, as well as seeking to minimise the loss of the existing built and natural environment.
  • A Conservation Area can take many forms and, as a boundary designated on a map, can include many different types, styles and forms of building and landscape.
  • Typical Conservation Areas include the centre of older cities, towns and villages; older suburbs and even particularly significant early housing estates; as well as areas around significant historic landmarks and, of course, larger country estates.
  • The administration of Conservation Areas requires local authorities to undertake occasional appraisals, which involve a character appraisal and boundary review. (English Heritage recommend this happens every five years; in some cases, it’s more like every 30 though).
  • Some, but far from all, local authorities have specialist conservation officers who will automatically be designated as the case officer for all applications in Conservation Areas (in recent years planning departments in local authorities have significantly cut back on staffing resource which has meant that in some cases planning officers also act as conservation officers).

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