A conservation area is an "area of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance" (Section 69 of The 1990 Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act).
The main attributes that define the special character of an area are its physical appearance and history, i.e. the form and features of buildings and the spaces between them, their former uses and historical development. Where there are a number of periods of historical development, the character of individual parts of the conservation area may differ. Contrasts between the appearance of areas and the combination of buildings of various ages, materials and styles may contribute to its special character.
In some instances, areas that either contribute little, or are even detrimental to the character of the conservation area, are included within the boundary because of their potential for enhancement. It is important that the council carefully balances the benefits of potential enhancement against the possibility that the inclusion of such areas may be perceived as devaluing the status of the conservation area as a whole.
There are also some Conservation Areas which have an additional level of control called an Article 4 direction. This protects the facade (sometimes front and rear) of the property from works which may otherwise be permitted, but that have the potential to harm the special interest of that specific area.
English Heritage and the Department for Communities and Local Government provide further guidance.
There are seventy-one conservation areas in South Oxfordshire.
To find out if you're in a conservation area, or if a property has listed building status, use the interactive map below:
Last reviewed: 27 - 06 - 2016