Big Conservation Conversation

The value of conservation areas on the impact of this country is clear. Their future is not. 

For those who wish to make a donation to help grow the national civic movement, please visit Donation to Conservation Area Campaign

The number of conservation areas at risk rose to 512 in 2017 from 497 in 2014, after surveys of almost 8,300 (84 per cent) conservation areas across the country. This means that 6% per cent of England’s conservation areas are now considered to be at risk. With funding cuts and continued pressure on local authority conservation staff (33 per cent of conservation staff lost since 2007), the problem is likely to get worse.

The Big Conservation Conversation was launched by Civic Voice at the 2016 Annual Convention and AGM in Chester to reverse this trend. We are being supported by the APPG for Civic Societies and Civic Voice's Vice-President, Laura Sandys.

Sign up the campaign and tell us what you plan on doing here.

The concept of conservation areas was introduced in England, Wales and Scotland by the Civic Amenities Act 1967 through a private members bill led by Lord Duncan Sandys. Civic Voice now holds the annual Sandys Lecture in his name.

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 10,000 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.

Research by Historic England, shows that only a small majority of those surveyed who live in a Conservation Area (56%) were aware that they actually live in one. This suggests a need to raise awareness. This is exactly what the Big Conservation Conversation is all about. We need community groups across the country to get involved in our Big Conservation Conversation campaign and celebrate where they live for Civic Day 2018. We want to see a Civic Day activity take place in every conservation area across England. With local authorities across the country continuing to see their resources reduced, we want more residents in conservation areas to play a greater role by commenting on planning applications, helping prepare lists of local historic buildings or doing street clutter audits and to celebrate where they live through National Civic Day.

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.

Get Involved

Problems in conservation areas can include poorly maintained roads and pavements and street clutter and loss of front garden walls. Some local groups such as Halifax Civic Trust have helped raise awareness of the issues and have helped to prepare character appraisals and management plans for conservation areas whilst others have carried out their own assessments to identify management issues. Others undertake audits of the local area. One audit can be a Street Clutter audit or a Garden Check. 

We are gathering evidence through our various campaigns to ensure conservation areas are given greater resources and protection because we want to see

  • improved community awareness and understanding of the nature and value of Conservation Areas
  • stronger support for Conservation Areas among politicians and policy makers, national and local
  • more Conservation Areas protected from damaging change. 

Between 2017-2020 and with the support of Laura Sandys, the civic movement will be raising awareness of conservation areas and we want you to show your support. Sign up today to join our newsletter which will keep people updated on our activities. Support our campaign here

Designating a conservation area should not be seen as an end in itself: we live in a changing world and for the historic environment to survive and continue to be cherished it needs to be positively managed. We want communities across the country to come together and say "My Conservation Area Matters" and to be inspired by groups such a the The Deal Society. This will also be the theme for next year's Civic Day when we will be encouraging civic societies to go out and celebrate their local conservation area. Through the Civic Voice Design Awards we are showing that the historic environment is not a barrier to growth. From the shortlisted schemes for the 2017 Civic Voice Design Awards, we had ten schemes in a Conservation Area and one in a World Heritage Site.  You can see the special awards we presented here. In 2018, there will again be a Special Conservation Area Award to highlight a new development that is enhancing a conservation area.

Sign up the campaign and tell us what you plan on doing here.

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