King’s Cross conservation area – Camden and Islington
King’s Cross conservation area – Camden and Islington. The conservation area around King’s Cross Station recognises the importance of the area as a major gateway into London for over 200 years. © Historic England J890290
King’s Cross conservation area – Camden and Islington. The conservation area around King’s Cross Station recognises the importance of the area as a major gateway into London for over 200 years. © Historic England J890290

What Is a Conservation Area?

Conservation areas exist to manage and protect the special architectural and historic interest of a place - in other words, the features that make it unique. Every local authority in England has at least one conservation area and there are around 10,000 in England.

How is a conservation area designated?

Most conservation areas are designated by the Council as the local planning authority. 

Find out more about how they're designated and managed.

What does designation mean?

In conservation areas there are some extra planning controls and considerations in place to protect the historic and architectural elements which make the place special.

Find out how being in a conservation area can affect you.

Did you know?

  • 2.2% of England (2,938 square kilometres) is a conservation area – that’s an area larger than Luxembourg
  • 59% of conservation areas are rural and 41% are in urban areas
  • 2.27% of England is built on, so there is a lot of open space in conservation areas
  • Wiltshire has the most conservation areas with 246 across the county. Followed by Cornwall, with 146, and the Cotswold district, with 145
  • The largest conservation area is Swaledale and Arkengarthdale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It covers 71 square kilometres and is a stunning upland landscape where the conservation area protects around 1,000 traditional farm buildings and the dry-stone walls that criss-cross the landscape. Only slightly smaller than Guernsey, there are 30 countries smaller than this conservation area. It surrounds several villages which are conservation areas in their own right.

Read our blog about six amazing conservation areas

Make the most of conservation areas

If your local conservation area intrigues you, you could:

  • Look up Conservation Area Appraisals on your local authority’s website to learn more about the area’s unique character
  • Look up listed buildings on the National Heritage List for England and consider enriching The List yourself with your own photos and insights about these special places
  • Look up your local history group or the national amenity societies and get involved in their activities

Further guidance

Visit our page on Living in a Conservation Area for details on obtaining consent and opportunities for grant aid.

Research on the value of conservation areas

Research by the London School of Economics has found that people value living in conservation areas. This is evidenced by properties in conservation areas having higher prices and greater price appreciation, even after adjusting for location and other factors that affect prices. For more information on this research see: Value of Conservation Areas.

Was this page helpful?