The government can grant statutory protection to preserve the specific historic character of a particular area of a village, town or city.
Listed conservation areas mainly include historic structures like streets, parks and land parcelling patterns. The Monuments and Historic Buildings Act 1988 describes these as: ‘Groups of immovable objects that are of general importance because of their aesthetic quality, their spatial or structural association or their scientific or cultural interest, such groups including one or more monuments or historic buildings’.
When an conservation area is listed, an official listing order is issued, together with an explanatory document and a plan defining the boundaries of the area. The listing process for conservation areas featuring early architecture (to 1850) has now been completed; that for more recent architecture (1850-1940) is still ongoing.
Local authority responsibilities
The local authority is responsible for drawing up a zoning plan for the conservation area, with due regard for its cultural importance. New structures may be built there, but only if they are in keeping with the historical character of the area.