It’s been 50 years since conservation areas were introduced. Many people are in favour of these bastions of the unique and historic, which can boost property values, but some see them as a sign of unnecessary government meddling. Arabella Youens examines
FOR advocates, conservation areas have been responsible for preserving some of England’s finest examples of built heritage; for others, they allow local planners too much power over seemingly inconsequential matters such as downpipes and tree heights. Like it or not, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Civic Amenities Act 1967, which saw the introduction of the first conservation areas in the UK.
The idea of introducing preservation orders on some of the best examples of urban and village built heritage had already been mooted in the early 1960s. A total of 51 ‘gem towns’ were identified by the Council for British Archaeology in response to widespread road expansion projects taking place around the country— among other examples was the loss of heritage assets in Worcester following the development of the town centre.
It was intended that the first conservation areas would be created in these towns, which included York, Chester, Chichester and Bath, but, thanks to the efforts of a dynamic planner in Stamford, who