English Heritage reveals conservation areas at risk

By Culture24 Staff | 23 June 2009
a derelict builiding

(Above) Chaldon Herring Conservation Area, Chaldon Herring, Dorset

The latest Heritage at Risk register released by English Heritage reveals that one in seven of England's 9,300 conservation areas is at risk of neglect, decay or damaging change.

The survey by English Heritage found that 83 percent of the areas were affected by plastic windows and doors, 60 percent by poorly maintained roads and pavements, 45 percent by street clutter and 43 percent by the loss of front garden walls, fences and hedges.

As a result of the survey, English Heritage is launching a Conservation Areas at Risk campaign, urging residents, local groups and councils to improve the sites before it is too late.

"Analysing the results, it is clear the problems fall into two main areas: what owners do to their properties and what councils do or fail to do to the streets, pavements, parks and public spaces," said Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage.

a derelict builiding

Caistor Conservation Area, Lincolnshire

"We are asking for three things. Firstly, we want councils to make more use of Article 4 Directions – only 13 percent of conservation areas currently have one – to protect small but important original details such as windows, doors and front gardens.

"Lose these and slowly but inevitably you lose the character and the history that made the area special in the first place. And where there are neglected or derelict buildings, councils should use their powers to encourage owners to repair or sell them.

"Secondly, we want council departments to work together to take better care of the public areas. Thirdly, we want local people to get involved. Our survey shows that conservation areas with community support are more than twice as likely to have improved over the last three years as those without."

However some councils have been working hard to improve their conservation areas and English Heritage has given out eight regional awards to the local authorities that have done the most, with Stockton in the North East winning the national award.

a large building

Kings Cross Conservation Area, London

"Millions of us live in, work in, pass through or visit conservation areas," added Thurley. "They are the centres of historic towns and villages, 1930s suburbs, rural idylls or estates of industrial workers' cottages. This local heritage gives England its distinctiveness.

"When well cared-for they encourage good neighbourliness, give a boost to the local economy and will continue to be a source of national pride and joy for generations to come."

For more information on the campaign visit English Heritage online. For a free copy of the campaign booklet either register on the website or contact English Heritage Customer Services on 0870 3331181 or email customers@english-heritage.org.uk.

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