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Tips for Local Authorities

To help local planning authorities protect and enhance their conservation areas, our tips below highlight the existing powers and tools available. They also encourage local authorities to engage the knowledge and support of local communities in the management of conservation areas.

For support on conservation areas and information on Historic England grants for partnership projects in conservation areas, contact your local Historic England office.

Top 10 tips

1. Use designation to protect the special interest of an area

The designation and review process is straightforward and is explained in our Advice Note on Conservation Areas. See our advice for local authorities considering designating a conservation area.

2. Use Local Planning Authority powers to manage change

There is a wide range of powers available to you for the management, conservation and enhancement of conservation areas, including:

a. Tree preservation orders
b. Article 4 directions
c. Control of demolition
d. Advertisement controls
e. Policy
f. Local lists
g. Planning permission
h. Remember the duty noted at Section 72 of the Planning (Listed buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 to pay special attention to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of the conservation area in exercising planning functions.

Find out more about managing change in conservation areas.

3. Carry out appraisals

Conservation area appraisals help you and the local community to understand what’s special about a conservation area. For further information see our Advice Note on Conservation Area Appraisal, Designation and Management.

4. Engage with local communities

We recommend that you engage with local communities when carrying out conservation area appraisals, monitoring and local listing. The perspective of people living and working in the area will add depth to the appraisal and generate support and understanding for future plans.

5. Publish plans

Ideally, local authorities should have a management plan for each conservation area. The conservation area management plan will help to coordinate stakeholders and reassure the local community about your intentions to protect these special areas. Find out more about managing change through management plans.

Image shows Brighton Hippodrome Theatre in Brighton Old Town Conservation
Brighton Old Town Conservation Area was added to the Heritage at Risk Register 2016. Image shows Grade II* Brighton Hippodrome Theatre which is also at risk © Historic England

6. Review and monitor

Review conservation area designations from time to time. Check both their boundaries and their character to ensure that the right areas are protected by the designation.

7. Stop the rot

Sometimes historic buildings become vacant or neglected. There’s a range of measures available to you to ensure that these heritage assets aren’t lost. Refer to our guidance on Stopping the Rot for more detail about the measures and enforcement powers available.

8. Link to work on local plans

To use your resources efficiently, try using conservation area appraisals to inform local plan allocations or using work on local plans to inform conservation area designation and appraisal.

9. Be aware of Conservation Areas at Risk

Currently 6% of conservation areas are at risk. For these areas there are implications for the character of the area, the value of properties, the social or economic wellbeing of the area, its local amenities and also a reputational risk for the local authority.

10. Appoint a Heritage Champion

Most local authorities have a Heritage Champion – they can be the voice for heritage in your local area. Find out how a Heritage Champion can help.

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