Conservation areas were first introduced in 1967 when it was found that existing statutory protection for individual buildings was failing to protect the overall character of cities, towns and villages. The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 defines a conservation area as:
'an area of special architectural interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance'
Conservation areas are often centred on listed buildings, open spaces or historic streetscapes and landscapes. It is the character of the area as a whole, rather than individual buildings, that the conservation area seeks to preserve or enhance.