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To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the UK introduction of conservation areas, the Bidwells’ Heritage Team are hosting a conference to look at what we’ve learnt about conservation in the last 50 years

Leading property consultants, Bidwells, are to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the introduction to the UK of conservation areas. The Civic Amenities Act was introduced in 1967, and to mark the anniversary Bidwells’ Heritage team will be hosting a one-day conference on Thursday September 21 2017 in Stamford – the UK’s first conservation area - looking at what has been learnt over the last 50 years in terms of conservation, and how it has affected the way our environments have grown.

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The ‘Stamford 50’ event will bring together a range of speakers who represent different professions and stakeholders whose life or work is influenced by the existence of conservation areas. Key speakers will include: Dr Jonathan Foyle and Tom Dyckhoff, both architectural historians and broadcasters; Dan Cruickshank, art historian & broadcaster; and James Simpson OBE, the renowned conservation architect.

At the event, Bidwells will be launching their Heritage Data research, which analyses conservation areas and listed buildings throughout the UK, assembling a comprehensive resource for the heritage property sector.

Their research finds that, both within and outside conservation areas, there are over 375,000 entries on the Statutory List, equating to over half a million listed buildings in England, representing just under 1.5% of all the nation’s building stock. Of those that are listed in England, 69% are located in the south of country, 18% are in the Midlands, and a fewer 13% are in the North.

Buildings are listed either as Grade I, Grade II*, or Grade II as a mark of their relative architectural or historic interest. The vast majority of listed buildings in England are categorised as Grade II. In 2015, around 91% of all listed properties were Grade II. A further 6% were Grade II* listed and only 3% (representing approximately 8,000 buildings) are awarded the largely inviolate status of Grade I. Examples of Grade I listed buildings range from Blenheim Palace to the Severn Bridge Crossing, the Gorilla House at Regent’s Park Zoo, and the 1930s Highpoint II flats in Haringey.

The town of Stamford, in Lincolnshire, was the first location to be designated a conservation area in the whole of the UK and, at the time of designation in 1967, it accounted for over half the listed buildings within Lincolnshire! Now, despite the county’s relatively low population density, Lincolnshire has the fifth highest concentration of Grade I listed properties (just under 400 buildings) of all the counties in England. Only Norfolk, Suffolk, London, and Devon have more top-graded listings. This reflects Lincolnshire’s importance as an area for conservation and heritage within the context of the UK as a whole.

In recognition of the importance of Stamford’s conservation prowess, South Kesteven District Council will mark the event with a week of celebrations supported by Bidwells LLP, RIBA, RTPI, and Historic England.

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