What is a Conservation Area?
Conservation areas exist to manage and protect the special architectural and historic interest of a place - in other words, the features that make it unique. Every local authority in England has at least one conservation area and there are now over 10,000 in England.
How is a conservation area designated?
Most conservation areas are designated by the Council as the local planning authority.
What does designation mean?
In conservation areas there are some extra planning controls and considerations in place to protect the historic and architectural elements which make the place special.
Did you know?
- 2.2% of England (2,938 square kilometres) is a conservation area – that’s an area larger than Luxembourg
- 59% of conservation areas are rural and 41% are in urban areas
- 2.27% of England is built on, so there is a lot of open space in conservation areas
- Wiltshire has the most conservation areas with 246 across the county. Followed by Cornwall, with 146, and the Cotswold district, with 145
- The largest conservation area is Swaledale and Arkengarthdale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It covers 71 square kilometres and is a stunning upland landscape where the conservation area protects around 1,000 traditional farm buildings and the dry-stone walls that criss-cross the landscape. Only slightly smaller than Guernsey, there are 30 countries smaller than this conservation area. It surrounds several villages which are conservation areas in their own right.
Make the most of conservation areas
If your local conservation area intrigues you, you could:
- Look up Conservation Area Appraisals on your local authority’s website to learn more about the area’s unique character
- Look up listed buildings on the National Heritage List for England and consider enriching The List yourself with your own photos and insights about these special places
- Look up your local history group or the national amenity societies and get involved in their activities
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: Value of Conservation Areas.
Also of interest...
Advice on applying for Conservation Area Consent.
This page sets out what conservation areas are and how they are designated and managed.
This page explains what it means to own a building in a conservation area.
We support local authorities in assessing condition of conservation areas and help them find and implement solutions for areas at risk.
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.