50 Years Since Our City’s First Conservation Areas
Whilst the West Hill Conservation Area was not designated until 1977, the areas of Brunswick Town and Cliftonville in Hove were designated by the then Hove Borough Council in 1969. Today, there are 34 conservation areas in the City of Brighton & Hove whose special character and appearance are considered worthy of preservation and, indeed, enhancement. The idea of a conservation area was pioneered, strangely enough, in the United States before the Second World War and it was not until 1966 that a bill, which later became the Civic Amenities Act 1967, was introduced in the British Parliament by Duncan Sandys MP, who was president of the Civic Trust and, incidentally, a son-in law of Winston Churchill. In the same year, the Georgian town of Stamford in Lincolnshire became the first of what are now over eight thousand conservation areas in England.
A new service has been fully operational since December which aims to work closely with communities and partners in order to deliver co-ordinated, fast and effective enforcement and inspection work across a number of council services. These include environmental health, housing, planning enforcement, community safety, seafront services and parks. The field officer team has already been engaged in the West Hill area ensuring that the regulation which governs estate agents’ board is adhered to and monitoring the position of houses in multiple occupancy.
English Heritage and Historic England
The public service which is responsible for advising government on the listing of buildings and other heritage matters and which maintains the National Heritage List for England (available online) is now known as Historic England. It is not to be confused with English Heritage which fulfilled this role before 2015 but which then became independent of government as a registered charity, managing some four hundred historic places such as Stonehenge and Rievaulx Abbey and acts, therefore, much in the same way as the National Trust. It is Historic England which encourages local authorities to appoint a Heritage Champion whose role is to promote all aspects of the historic environment in their area. The Heritage Champion for Brighton and Hove is Councillor Adrian Morris who, since taking up the role earlier this year, has attended meetings of the Conservation Advisory Group (CAG) as part of his activities.