William Eichler 28 September 2017

Poll reveals widespread support for Conservation Areas

A new poll has revealed there is widespread public support for council powers designed to protect the appearance of Conservation Areas.

Conservation Areas are designated and managed by local authorities, and there are now more than 10,000, ranging from small country villages to large inner city areas.

The YouGov poll found nearly three quarters of adults (74%) in England said they believed councils should have the powers to restrict changes to buildings and streets in order to protect the character and appearance of a Conservation Area.

Published by Historic England 50 years since the first Conservation Area was designated in Stamford, Lincolnshire, the poll also found 93% of adults surveyed were aware of Conservation Areas.

More than half of those polled said they know a little bit about them (57%), while 12% said they know a lot about them.

YouGov also surveyed adults living in Conservation Areas and found they were more likely than the general population to rate the appearance of their local area as good (75% vs 58%).

Almost two thirds (65%) of residents who are aware they live in a Conservation Area said they would be likely to relocate to another Conservation Area if they had to move home.

However, only a small majority of those surveyed who live in a Conservation Area (56%) were aware they actually lived in one.

‘This public attitudes survey tells us that Conservation Areas are highly regarded and overall, a positive influence,’ said Duncan Wilson, chief executive at Historic England.

‘This legislation is still relevant 50 years on from when it was introduced, and a tool that local authorities have in their armoury to protect the local historic environment which is precious to people and communities.

‘Without this legislation, historic buildings, streets and landscapes would have been lost forever.’

Mr Wilson also said the ‘continuing drop’ in local authority conservation officer numbers was concerning.

‘Unfortunately, the continuing drop in local authority conservation officer numbers could put Conservation Areas at risk.

‘There has been a slow decline since 2006 and we may start to feel the effects soon.

‘Conservation Areas must be protected – they have an important role as we look to the future and can help councils, civic groups and communities to preserve what’s really special for future generations to enjoy.’

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