Conservation Areas

We identify areas of ‘special architectural or historic interest that makes them worth protecting and improving.

The main purpose of creating a conservation area is to preserve and enhance the unique and distinctive character of an area through planning and other environmental measures.

Designation within a conservation doesn’t mean every building will be preserved and that no changes will be allowed, but instead helps to ensure changes respect the area’s character and appearance. The additional planning restrictions within conservation areas give more control over new development to ensure it is of good quality, and to provide protection for important features, spaces, or buildings.

Oxford has 18 Conservation Areas at present.  They 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. See all Conservation Areas on a map.

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.

Central (University and City) Conservation Area extended

The Council has approved a change to the boundary, with the accompanying appraisal and management plan to follow in Spring 2020.

The Central Conservation Area was originally designated in 1971, and the draft appraisal written last year is the first to be prepared for it. After listening to the public back in September and October last year, we have appraised new areas of the city, and found two areas to be worthy of designation as part of the conservation area:

  • St Thomas’: one of the earliest suburbs outside the city walls; the relationship between the city and its waterways, motor industry, and workers’ housing can be found here. The extension includes 39-42a Hythe Bridge Street; and two blocks south of Park End Street and Frideswide Square, (fronting Park End Street, Frideswide Square, the northern half of Becket Street, Hollybush Row, and 1- 5 Osney Lane).
  • The University Science Quarter: a physical demonstration of the university’s commitment to the promotion of scientific research within the city during the mid-19th century, and beyond. Each building in the area is of its time and designed to reflect its use, which is continuously changing as the field adapts. Changes in building styles and types are expected and encouraged in this area in order to maintain the university’s place as a world leader in scientific excellence.

The revised boundary was approved by the Council’s Cabinet on 29th May, coming into effect immediately. The accompanying draft appraisal and management plan will go to public consultation in October and November 2019, taking into account the comments received on the first round of consultation last year. Full details as to the reasons for the revised boundaries will be detailed in those documents.

Other conservation areas

Further details and maps of each of the Conservation Areas (including appraisals where they have been written) are available below: