Press release: SAVE calls for increased Conservation Area protection ahead of heritage debate in Parliament this week

24 January 2017

Press release: SAVE calls for increased Conservation Area protection ahead of heritage debate in Parliament this week

SAVE Britain’s Heritage is calling for new laws to strengthen and clarify protection of historic buildings, streets and places in Conservation Areas across Britain, ahead of a special debate in the House of Commons on 26th January.

The debate marks the 50th anniversary of Conservation Area designations and the start of a year of celebrations highlighting the measures designed to protect areas recognised for their special character or history. Despite these protections, many of these unique historic areas are often at risk from unsympathetic piecemeal development.

The programme of area preservation launched by Lord Duncan-Sandys in a private members bill 50 years ago was one of the greatest heritage success stories of recent decades. It ensured that residential areas and town centres kept their character and harmony, sparking a huge resurgence in urban living both in town centres and inner and outer suburbs. 

Yet Conservation Areas are under constant pressures from property interests keen to exploit increasing property values with oversized developments, which threaten and cause harm to these areas of special character.

SAVE would like to see the powers to protect these areas strengthened and clarified through new Conservation Area legislation.

Robert Jenrick MP, who is leading the debate on Thursday said: “I am delighted that Parliament will be holding a debate at the beginning of this anniversary year of the creation of Conservation Areas by Duncan Sandys’ 1967 Act. Conservation Areas have been one of the great examples of the power of communities working together to preserve what’s special about the places they live and love for future generations. The debate will praise the millions of people who’ve contributed to establishing and maintaining Conservation Areas and seek to focus the Government’s attention on the serious challenges they face today from new planning laws and unsympathetic development.”   

The debate is timely given the recent permission by Westminster City Council, London, to allow a 19 storey mega office block, known as the ‘Paddington Cube’ in the Bayswater Conservation Area and adjacent to the Grade I listed Paddington Station. The proposed block is more than three times the size of surrounding buildings, with the 14 storey office element as deep in plan as it is high. Conservation Area status should be protecting places from this type of over-scaled development.

Please sign the petition here to stop the plans.

SAVE, along with other national heritage groups, is urging the government to step up and call in the application for a public inquiry, given the controversy around the decision making process, and the impact of the development on the Conservation Area. We are currently awaiting a decision from Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Marcus Binney, Executive President of SAVE said: “Conservation Area protection needs an overhaul. Cases like the Paddington Cube are stark reminders that the safety mechanisms enshrined in the current legislation are not working and the official guidelines are confusing. Increasingly Conservation Areas are under attack from proposals which are wholly alien to their character and should not be approved. An urgent review of Conservation Area protection is needed and this debate opens the way.”

Note to editors:

1. For more information please contact SAVE on 0207 253 3500 or

2. More information on the Paddington Cube campaign can be seen here

3. SAVE Britain’s Heritage has been campaigning for historic buildings since its formation in 1975 by a group of architectural historians, writers, journalists and planners. It is a strong, independent voice in conservation, free to respond rapidly to emergencies and to speak out loud for the historic built environment.

Press release issued by SAVE Britain’s Heritage

70 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ

Registered Charity 269129

Tel. 020 7253 3500  Email

Follow SAVE on Twitter: @SAVEBrit

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