2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the Civic Amenities Act 1967, through which Conservation Areas were introduced into England, Scotland and Wales.
The 1967 Act was introduced as a Private Members' Bill led by Lord Duncan Sandys: in recognition of whom, Civic Voice hosts its annual Sandys Lecture. From 2017-2020 and with the support of Laura Sandys, the civic movement will be raising awareness of conservation areas and Civic Voice will be leading a 'Big Conservation Conversation'.
The first conservation area was designated in 1967 in Stamford, Lincolnshire.
Conservation areas are designated under the provisions of Section 69 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation areas) Act 1990. A conservation area is defined as “an area of special architectural or historic interest the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance”. It is the quality and interest of an area, rather than that of individual buildings, which is the prime consideration in identifying a conservation area. The designation of a conservation area does not prevent change from occurring. Instead, designation seeks to manage change in order to enhance conservation areas and ensure that new developments do not harm the existing character. Conservation Area designation essentially controls the demolition of unlisted buildings over a certain size and works to protect trees, restricts permitted development rights on dwelling houses and tightens regulations on advertising. It also places a statutory duty on local planning authorities to pay special attention to preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of conservation areas while undertaking their planning duties.
When conservation areas legislation was introduced there was widespread public concern over the pace of redevelopment in our historic towns and cities. Today there are over 10,100 conservation areas in the UK (approximately 9,300 in England, 500 in Wales, 650 in Scotland and 60 in Northern Ireland) reflecting the popularity of this legislative tool in identifying and protecting our most valued historic places.
We want to hear from residents groups, civic societies, conservation societies, local council, architects and everyone else involved in championing the importance of a local conservation area. We want communities across the country to come together and say "My Conservation Area Matters".