What is a Conservation Area?

A quick guide to the rules governing Conservation Areas

Conservation Areas are places of special architectural and historic interest which have a particular character and appearance worthy of preservation and enhancement.

Historic settlement patterns, groups of buildings, walls trees and hedges, open spaces, views, and use of local or other special materials combine to make an individual sense of place. It is this character that conservation area status seeks to define and then aim to protect.

Section 69 of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 places a duty upon local planning authorities to identify areas of special architectural or historic interest and to designate these as conservation areas. Since 1967, more than 9,000 conservation areas have been designated nationwide, including 51 in West Oxfordshire.

Section 69 of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990

Section 69 of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990

Section 71 of the same act places a duty on local planning authorities to make specific proposals for the preservation and the enhancement of this character in the conservation area and, where relevant, its landscape setting.

Section 71 of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990

Section 71 of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990

In West Oxfordshire, designation of the historic towns of Burford, Charlbury, Eynsham, Witney and Woodstock as conservation areas all date from the 1970s. They pre-date the existence of WODC and were largely the work of the Oxfordshire County Council. There was a second set of designations in the late 1980s and early 1990s; these conservation areas mainly comprised the larger villages.

The Churchill Conservation Area was defined and designated in 1999. At that time, the built-up area of the Parish was assessed; a public meeting was held and the conservation area and its boundary designated by WODC. However, neither a Character Assessment nor any Proposals for Preservation and Enhancement have been made for Churchill.

Consequently, the Parish Council formed a 'Task and Finish' working group in October 2017 to undertake this work in consultation with Conservation, Planning and other officers of WODC. Many members of the village community have already become involved.

As part of this work, consideration was given to extending the boundary of the Churchill Conservation Area to include the linked settlement of Sarsden. However, Sarsden House itself, together with many related listed buildings and other heritage assets, is within the boundary of the grade II* Scheduled Park which gives them a specific level of additional protection. Consequently, it was decided that such extension, or the creation of a related but separate conservation area, was unnecessary.

Nonetheless, the Scheduled Park and its buildings, together with the adjoining valley of the Sar Brook, are a fundamental part of the landscape context of Churchill Conservation Area and make a vital contribution to its character and appearance and, in particular, form a vital part of the setting of the village.

Relevant Documents

Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990


Churchill Conservation Area