The first conservation areas were designated in 1967 and there are now over 8,000 conservation areas in England. They are designated for their special architectural and historic interest.
There are many different types including:
- the centres of our historic towns and cities
- fishing and mining villages
- 18th and 19th-century suburbs
- model housing estates
- country houses set in their historic parks
- historic transport links and their environs, such as stretches of canal
How is a conservation area designated?
Most conservation areas are designated by the Council as the local planning authority. Historic England can designate conservation areas in London, where we have to consult the relevant London Borough Council and obtain the consent of the Secretary of State for National Heritage. The Secretary of State can also designate in exceptional circumstances - usually where the area is of more than local interest.
What does designation mean?
Property Alterations: If you live in or run a business from a property in a conservation area you may need permission from the Council before making alterations such as cladding, inserting windows, installing satellite dishes and solar panels, adding conservatories or other extensions, laying paving or building walls. As the Council can change the types of alterations that need permission by making Article 4 Directions it is advisable to contact the Council before making arrangements to starting any work.
Trees: If you are thinking of cutting down a tree or doing any pruning work you must notify the Council 6 weeks in advance. This is to give the Council time to assess the contribution the tree makes to the character of the conservation area and decide whether to make a Tree Preservation Order.
Demolition or substantial demolition of a building within a conservation area will usually require permission from the Council.
Visit our page on Living in a Conservation Area for details on obtaining consent and opportunities for grant aid.
Research on the value of conservation areas
Research by the London School of Economics has found that people value living in conservation areas. This is evidenced by properties in conservation areas having higher prices and greater price appreciation, even after adjusting for location and other factors that affect prices. For more information on this research see our Value of Conservation Areas page.
Also of interest...
In 2015 the number of conservation areas at risk rose to 505 from 497 in 2014.
An introduction to good practice guidance on managing local heritage assets using local heritage lists.
England's National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) cover nearly a quarter of the country's land area as protected landscapes.