50 Years of Conservation Areas
Conservation areas exist to preserve 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.
To mark their 50th anniversary we’re carrying out new research and campaigning to raise awareness of conservation areas. Our aim is to influence behaviour so conservation areas are even more prized by local communities and local authorities.
On this page:
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 consider joining or taking part in their activities
For more advice on living in or making the most of conservation areas, see our tips for:
Conservation areas at risk
- 6% of conservation areas are at risk nationally
- The top threats to conservation areas are: unsympathetic doors or windows; poorly maintained streets, walls, fences or hedges; satellite dishes; effects of traffic management; alterations to walls, roofs or chimneys; unsympathetic new extensions; impact of advertisements; neglected green spaces.
The economic value of conservation areas
Historic England research indicates that houses in conservation areas sell for a premium of 9% on average.
Estate agents were surveyed for their views on conservation areas and 75% agreed that a well-maintained conservation area added to property value, while 82% felt that original features added to a property’s value.
New research and public survey
This year our Heritage Counts research will focus on conservation areas. We have also surveyed the public to find out what people think about conservation areas. We expect to finish our analysis and publish the results here over the summer.
We'll be updating this page regularly with further details of these and other projects.
Also of interest...
The streets and buildings of our towns and villages are part of the historic character of England.
This page explains what it means to own a building in a conservation area.
Advice on applying for Conservation Area Consent.
Conservation Areas turn 50 this year on the anniversary of the Civic Amenities Act. Here, we celebrate the conservation area of Haworth.
Conservation areas turn 50 this year on the anniversary of the Civic Amenities Act. Here, we celebrate John Street, Sheffield.