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Friends of Old Headington

People who care for the Old Headington Conservation Area in Oxford



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About the Planning Regulations for Conservation areas

Conservation areas are defined by central government as 'areas of special architectural or historical interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance'. Local planning authorities are required to designate areas that possess this special interest as conservation areas and to ensure that the character and appearance is protected.  There are 16 designated areas in the city, further details and maps of which are available via the links on the right of this page.

You can have a look at more detailed information about all the Conservation Areas in the city by selecting the relevant page from the left hand navigation menu. 

Local Authorities are also required to formulate and publish proposals for the continued preservation and enhancement of these areas. Oxford City Council is currently carrying out studies of its conservation areas to improve the understanding of their special interest; to help manage change and provide guidance for any proposed building works so that the quality of the areas is not depleted.

In designating and appraising a conservation area its special interest needs to be defined and the City Council will consider the:

  • Geology, location and physical character of an area
  • Origins, archaeology and development of historic land and building uses within a settlement
  • Architectural and historic qualities of the buildings in the settlement
  • Character of open spaces and their relationship to buildings
  • Contribution of trees and hedges
  • Key landmarks
  • Views into and out of the area
  • Range and quality of traditional building materials 

The city council cannot consider new designations merely because of development pressures or the risk, perceived or real, to the character of an area; there has to be a special interest worthy of identification meeting the high standards and expectations required by central government.  To do anything less would devalue the significance and status of the designation process and existing designations. 

The conservation areas designated by Oxford City Council include a diverse range of qualities from the compact college environment found in the city centre, the open green space found in the Headington Hill Conservation Area to the vast meadows in Wolvercote and Godstow. Architectural styles and landscape qualities are diverse but they all have the common element of containing features that contribute to our historic past. It is the protection of these elements that need to be properly managed, ensuring future generations will value and enjoy their special qualities.

Additional Controls

Within a conservation area the city council has additional powers to protect buildings and landscape against alteration, development and demolition. The extent of works you can carry out without the specific permission of the city council is more limited than elsewhere and affects proposals such as extensions, roof dormers, works of demolition, satellite dishes and the application of cladding materials to external elevations 

Consideration of proposals

Any formal submission of proposals will need to demonstrate that the special character and appearance of your property, its street setting and the conservation area as a whole has been considered and respected. Understanding and consideration of local building materials, building techniques and forms are essential and the new development needs to respond to existing style and scale of development.  Any proposal that is considered to undermine the character and appearance of the area and cause harm to the special interest will be resisted.

Application Forms

For application forms for planning permission and conservation area consent see How to Apply for Planning Permission.