Q: How many conservation areas are there in England?

A: There are around 9,300 conservation areas. They are designated by local authorities. Information on what areas are designated is available from local authority websites. English Heritage is compiling a complete list and is requesting conservation area data from local authorities in an electronic form to include in its own internal GIS (Geographical Information System) to assist in the analysis of information. For copyright reasons public access to this data cannot be provided by English Heritage, so interested people should get in touch with individual authorities for the boundaries of their conservation areas.

Q: Are conservation areas unique to Britain?

A: No. Many other countries have recognised the value of designating areas as well as individual historic buildings or archaeological sites. However the legislation and therefore the parameters of area protection differ greatly. For example:

  • In Portugal there is a 50m “special protected zone” around listed buildings and in Lisbon alone there are some 2000 “special protected zones” that cover most of the centre of the city.
  • In Sweden there are area regulations which are managed at the municipal level.
  • In the Czech Republic there are “conservation zones” that are similar to buffer zones and “reserves” which are the closest to the conservation areas. These are managed by the municipal authorities.
  • In Estonia they have “milieu” which has the same level of protection as their registered (listed) buildings.
  • In Hungary they have 33 conservation areas and also “environment” (Curtilage) protection.
  • In Italy they designate ancient town centres where no buildings can be demolished (20,000 of them).
  • In the Netherlands they have 354 listed townscapes (2004 figure) where alterations require the consent of EH’s equivalent RDMZ. • In Norway they have “cultural environment” designation which is very similar to our conservation areas.
  • In France they have a national “secteur sauvegarde” designation for more important historic areas and a locally designated “zone de protection” for smaller settlements and the setting of protected buildings. Special permission is required to carry out building works both within these areas and within 500m of them.

Q: How much land do conservation areas cover in England?

A: We are currently asking local authorities to send us details of their conservation area boundaries so that we can map them and work this out. At present we only have responses from 70% of LAs, so cannot give a total. However, we do know that among the smallest conservation areas are Bute Street, Stockton-on-Tees at 0.18ha and Haslemere Springhead in Waverley, Surrey, at 0.32ha. Among the largest are Sunk Island in the East Riding of Yorkshire at 2,484ha and Bath at 1,486ha.

Q: How many conservation areas might an individual local authority have?

A: There is no limit. We do not have results for the whole country, but we know that the LA with the most is Cotswold District Council which has 144. The Peak District National Park Authority has 109. The Northumberland National Park Authority has just the one conservation area. All the islands in the Council of the Isles of Scilly are designated as a conservation area, the only local authority area covered entirely by a single designation.

Q: Which is the oldest conservation area in England?

A: Stamford Conservation Area in South Kesteven, Lincolnshire is the oldest conservation area in England and was designated in 1967.

Q: Which is the newest conservation area in England?

A: It is hard to say, as several conservation areas may have been designated recently, but one of the most recent is Wanstead Grove Conservation Area in Wanstead, East London, designated in March 2009.