The Big Conservation Conversation

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.

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.

In 2017 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. Sign up 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". Next year, Civic Day will be held on 17th June 2017 and we will be asking groups across the country to help use Civic Day as a focus to celebrate 50 years of conservation areas. We want the nation to come together to say "my conservation area matters" and participate in local and national events to recognise how conservation areas have helped keep many of our towns distinctive.

See below some of the ways your civic society could celebrate 50 years of conservation areas for Civic Day.

  • Publish a leaflet on the history of the area
  • Organise a guided walk
  • Organise a street party
  • Erect a “conservation area plaque/sign”
  • Undertake local membership drive
  • 'Clean your Conservation Area': litter pick
  • Placecheck : ask what do we like and what don’t we like
  • Debate – the Big Conservation Conversation: future of conservation areas
  • Competitions – why “My Conservation Area Matters”
  • Campaign for greater resources
  • Create new groups to protect conservation areas

We look forward to seeing everyone's Civic Day plans for next year. Sign up for more information here.