Bath’s City-Wide Conservation Area was first designated in 1968, following the introduction of the Civic Amenities Act 1967. A conservation area is recognised for its group value, and can include significant groupings of listed buildings, as well as features of interest in the public realm such as historic surfaces, signage, or street furniture such as public call boxes. Conservation areas are subject to statutory protection, and the National Planning Policy Framework states how best to sustain their special character when considering planning applications.
The Bath City Wide Conservation Area was one of the first six to be designated in the country. The conservation area was enlarged in 1973, extended again in 1975, 1985 and most recently in 2002. These extensions responded to changing conservation views about what was considered to be architecturally and historically important as well as ongoing changes in planning controls. The importance of the area and its surrounds was further recognised by its inscription as a World Heritage Site in 1987.
Bath’s conservation area covers 1486 hectares and is home to about 50,000 people and includes unique and internationally celebrated heritage. It also encompasses less well known suburban areas which have a range of different characteristics. Despite its longevity there has never been a complete character appraisal of the whole area.
Work to complete a character assessment for the city wide conservation area (broken down into 16 sub-areas) is being developed by B&NES Council with input from heritage experts and Bath Preservation Trust.
Including the city conservation area, there are a total of 35 conservation areas across the district, including a range of town centres, villages, and historic parks and gardens. These form part of Bath’s wider landscape setting and are intrinsic to the city’s interconnected relationship between the built and natural environments, and its overall ‘sense of place’. However, these conservation areas also remain significant in their own right, designated on the basis of their own identified special characteristics. There are currently 15 adopted conservation area character appraisals for these sites, which can be explored further on the council’s website.
Historic England has published helpful guidance on Designating and Managing a Conservation Area.