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 are included within Section 16 of the National Planning Policy Framework regarding how best to sustain their special character when considering planning applications.
Bath’s conservation area was first designated in 1968, following the introduction of the Civic Amenities Act 1967. It 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.
Today, Bath has one city-wide conservation area, which covers 1486 hectares and is home to about 50,000 people. The conservation area includes the city’s unique and much celebrated heritage, but 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.