Conservation areas

England has some 9300 conservation areas, places designated by local councils to protect their special character and appearance, but the latest edition of English Heritage’s annual ‘Heritage at Risk’ register, reveals that 1 in 7 is at risk of neglect, decay or damaging change and many more give cause for concern.

row of terraced houses

The results of English Heritage’s first ever survey of the condition of conservation areas shows the top threats to be:

  • Plastic windows and doors (83% of conservation areas affected)
  • Poorly maintained roads and pavements (60%)
  • Street clutter (45%)
  • Loss of front garden walls, fences and hedges (43%)
  • Unsightly satellite dishes (38%)
  • The effects of traffic calming or traffic management (36%)
  • Alterations to the fronts, roofs and chimneys of buildings (34%)
  • Unsympathetic extensions (31%)
  • Impact of advertisements (23%)
  • Neglected green spaces (18%).

Based on the findings of the survey, English Heritage launched a Conservation Areas at Risk campaign to get residents, local groups and councils working together to improve these special places before it is too late.

The survey shows that conservation areas with community support are more than twice as likely to have improved over the last three years as those without. And there are countless instances where civic societies and residents groups are helping councils by finding out what local people value, by doing street clutter audits, commenting on planning applications or helping to prepare local lists of historic buildings.”

There are also financial reasons why caring for your conservation area makes sense. An English Heritage poll of estate agents reveals that 82% think original features add value to a property and 75% think being in a well-kept conservation area enhances house prices.

(Originally published by Steve Way, 23 June 2009)