As London’s housing crisis rumbles on, more and more shiny skyscrapers are shooting up. If you find this state of affairs rather unseemly – un-British, even – then buying a home in a conservation area is worth considering.
Designated by local authorities for their special architectural or historical interest, there are currently over 8,000 of them in England and 56 in the borough of Westminster alone.
Created in 1967, they’re a preservation tool that takes the form of planning restrictions specific to each area and local authority, covering anything from cladding to satellite dishes, from solar panels to conservatories.
And it has an effect on house prices in these areas; according to the only research into the matter carried about by the London School of Economics in 2012, homes in conservation areas can command premiums of up to nine per cent and the growth rate of house prices in these areas are 0.2 per cent above the national average.
Richard Barber, director at prime central London estate agency W.A. Ellis, thinks there’s serious potential to be had by investing in a conservation site, too. “The preservation of properties within these areas means that there is uniformity and houses retain their original character, which can be very attractive to potential buyers.
“Although properties in these areas are not as strictly protected as Listed ones, planning restrictions mean that it is more difficult for buildings that are not in keeping with the local architecture – blocks of flats, for example – to get planning permission, further adding to the appeal for many.”