From Rhiannon Tracy, English Heritage:
CONSERVATION AREAS AT RISK
- English Heritage Launches First National Survey of Nation's Most
Special Places -
England has some 9,300 Conservation Areas, historic parts of cities,
towns, suburbs and villages designated by local authorities to protect
their special character. But what condition are they in? Are they
cherished through a close partnership of council and residents? Or are
they at risk from neglect, decay and inappropriate development?
Conservation Areas vary enormously. They include, for example, the
Belgravia Conservation Area in central London, the industrial heritage
of Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter, the fishing village of Clovelly in
North Devon and the Victorian People's Park Conservation Area in
Halifax. The heart of a historic town might be a Conservation Area. So
too might be a street of well-preserved 1930s semi-detached houses or an
isolated group of farm buildings. Details of local Conservation Areas
are held by councils and can usually be found on their websites.
English Heritage has asked every Local Authority in the country to fill
in a questionnaire for each of their Conservation Areas as part of the
first nationwide census of the condition of this important element of
our heritage. The results will be announced and a campaign will be
launched on 23rd June to help councils, communities and individual
residents to care for these special places.
Conservation Areas identified as at risk will be added to the Heritage
at Risk register, published annually by English Heritage. Each year new
categories are added to the register in an attempt to create a Domesday
Book of every aspect of England's threatened heritage. The register
helps everyone to prioritise action, direct resources to areas of need
and focus attention on saving the best of the past for the future.
Eventually it will make England the first country in the world to have a
comprehensive picture of its heritage at risk and the necessary
understanding to save it.
Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said:
"Conservation Areas play a vital role in protecting the most important
historic places in England from ill-considered change. Designated by
local authorities after widespread local consultation, millions of us
live in or near one, go to work or shop in one or visit them for
leisure. Thanks to help from hundreds of Local Authority Conservation
Officers all over the country, this survey will give us a true picture
of the condition of these important, historic places.
"Are sash windows still gracing house-fronts or are Conservation Areas
suffering from a plague of plastic ones? Are front gardens being lost to
car parking? Are the hearts of our most historic towns and suburban high
streets under threat from the wrong kind of change? Does the existence
of an active local amenity society make a difference?
"We will be analysing the results carefully so that we can help to
provide answers to questions like these and propose solutions where
Conservation Areas are in decline. This is a strategic, national
campaign and English Heritage won't be able to get involved in
individual issues at a local level. However, we will be providing
residents and local groups with information and advice and explaining
how they can help by working constructively with local authorities to
manage the places they value most. There is a lot that residents can do
themselves and we will support Conservation Officers in their tireless
work to halt decay and inappropriate change before it is too late."
Are you a member of a local amenity society or residents' group?
Many Conservation Areas have local amenity societies or residents'
groups which perform a valuable role in protecting the special character
of the place where they live for everyone's benefit. English Heritage is
keen to hear from as many local groups as possible so that they can keep
them informed of the Conservation Areas at Risk campaign.
They also want to hear about major successes and might feature your
local amenity society in their campaign booklet and on their website. To
receive information and get involved in the campaign, please visit
Heritage at Risk is sponsored by heritage insurer, Ecclesiastical.
Ecclesiastical has been working with English Heritage for more than 20
years across various initiatives and will be working to see where shared
research and data can give greater depth to the Heritage at Risk
Steve Wood, Managing Director of Ecclesiastical's insurance business in
the UK and Ireland, said: "As a leading heritage insurer we are very
aware of the threats our historic sites face. We are delighted therefore
to be helping English Heritage in their campaign to save Conservation
Areas, which enrich the lives of so many people who visit or live within