07 July 2012

The Value of England's Past

New research by the London School of Economics and English Heritage proves value of conservation areas.

Row of houses in a conservation area in Portsmouth

Conservation Areas cover about 20% of Portsmouth

Houses in conservation areas sell at a premium and show a greater appreciation in value than those in other areas. This is even after adjusting for the effects of the kind of property involved and where it is located. These are just some of the findings of the first, rigorous, large-scale, analysis of the effects of conservation areas on house prices in England, published today (Saturday 7th July, 2012). The research was funded by English Heritage and undertaken by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

A statistical analysis of more than 1 million property transactions between 1995 and 2010 from the Nationwide building society and data on more than 8,000 English conservation areas found that properties in conservation areas sell for 23% more on average than houses outside conservation areas. Even when location, the kind of properties involved and other factors affecting house prices are adjusted for a premium of around 9% was still found.

However, this falls by 4 percentage points (or to 5%) in conservation areas that are classified by Local Authorities as being  "at risk"  which could mean buildings lying derelict, loss of historic details such as sash windows, neglected public spaces and new buildings which threaten the area's character.

Properties closer to the centre of a conservation area sell for more than those at the edge suggesting people like being surrounded by more heritage. Even houses outside but close to the boundary of a conservation area (out to 500-700m), sell for more than similar properties elsewhere.

It was also found that house prices in conservation areas have grown at a rate that exceeded comparable properties elsewhere by 0.2%.

Dr Gabriel Ahlfeldt, an expert in urban economics at the LSE, who led the research, said: "This research shows that heritage has economic value. People value living in places with architectural integrity, good design and traditional character and are willing to pay more for it. It shows that preserving the best of the past, which is what conservation areas are meant to do, can be in the interest of the owners."

Dr Ahlfeldt and the research team also assessed people's perceptions of conservation areas and the planning regime and how these relate to house prices. They found that there was no universally negative attitude towards planning regulations. Indeed, home owners who had applied for permission were more likely to have positive attitudes towards planning controls than those who had not. Taken together with the evidence on house prices, this shows that the extra controls in a conservation area are not generally seen as an unwelcome burden.

Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: "Since they were introduced 40 years ago, England's 9,000 or so conservation areas have been helping to preserve the special character of the nation's best-loved places. At the heart of historic cities and market towns, in suburban neighbourhoods and rural villages, they form the network of everyday heritage that gives communities their cohesion and makes this country unique.  Our joint research project with the LSE proves the overwhelming popularity of conservation areas and that caring for them - even in the current financial climate - pays dividends."

Difference in house prices by region

RegionInside Conservation areas average £/square metreOutside Conservation areas average £/square metre% difference
Northern£1,040£9825.9%
Yorks and Humberside£1,208£1,07212.6%
North West£1,278£1,05321.4%
East Midlands£1,126£1,0339.0%
West Midlands£1,230£1,1219.8%
East Anglia£1,273£1,1857.5%
Outer South East£1,524£1,4286.8%
Outer Metropolitan£1,990£1,70117.0%
London£2,710£1,97537.2%
South West£1,364£1,2866.1%
England£1,745£1,36727.6%

 

Difference in house prices by town and city

Average price outside CAAverage price inside CA% difference
Darlington£120,484£187,12855.31%
Andover£214,368£332,63855.17%
Doncaster£131,168£183,41039.83%
Grantham£157,161£215,64237.21%
Nottingham£144,289£195,45235.46%
Burton upon Trent£156,515£210,87134.73%
Mansfield£118,365£158,05933.54%
Luton & Watford£237,619£315,29332.69%
Newcastle & Durham£138,924£184,10432.52%
Peterborough£163,696£216,06531.99%
London£273,287£359,14031.41%
Swindon£193,031£247,62528.28%
Birmingham£163,500£208,66727.63%
Sunderland£121,620£152,58925.46%
Wycombe & Slough£273,566£343,12125.43%
Oxford£258,111£319,75723.88%
Derby£157,328£194,84823.85%
Ashford£201,178£248,40923.48%
Warrington & Wigan£150,880£186,12623.36%
Stevenage£218,024£268,22223.02%
Hull£139,588£171,37222.77%
Northampton & Wellingborough£157,436£193,27822.77%
Bishop Auckland & Barnard Castle£119,071£143,88020.84%
Wirral & Ellesmere Port£151,403£182,73220.69%
Middlesbrough & Stockton£135,097£162,93020.60%
Worthing£211,856£253,99119.89%
Leeds£152,254£182,30019.73%
Rochdale & Oldham£127,807£152,87719.62%
Banbury£212,306£250,41017.95%
Crewe & Northwich£158,392£186,58917.80%
Lancaster & Morecambe£156,385£184,10817.73%
Southampton£220,926£259,77017.58%
Basingstoke£220,420£258,01917.06%
Chichester & Bognor Regis£223,020£259,25816.25%
Telford & Bridgnorth£164,379£191,08516.25%
Bristol£193,461£223,94215.76%
Dover£160,892£184,50514.68%
Chester & Flint£189,521£217,01114.50%
Burnley, Nelson & Colne£95,336£109,02714.36%
Dorchester & Weymouth£204,752£233,97014.27%
York£192,036£219,23214.16%
Worksop & Retford£150,900£171,71713.80%
Grimsby£128,071£145,67513.75%
Carlisle£133,326£150,51412.89%
Coventry£147,045£165,78612.75%
Maidstone & North Kent£196,868£220,93412.22%
Crawley£269,541£302,23012.13%
Liverpool£144,641£161,94911.97%
Morpeth, Ashington & Alnwick£131,373£147,05911.94%
Bath£204,176£228,40811.87%
Lincoln£140,119£156,65711.80%
Manchester£164,288£183,54511.72%
Milton Keynes & Aylesbury£206,854£230,97411.66%
Hereford & Leominster£183,669£203,26110.67%
Reading & Bracknell£270,266£298,08410.29%
Kettering & Corby£146,649£161,42010.07%
Leicester£158,215£173,8559.89%
Blackburn£123,970£134,8108.74%
Calderdale£138,864£150,4298.33%
Preston£153,824£166,6258.32%
Norwich£166,878£180,4758.15%
Cambridge£224,086£242,2288.10%
Taunton£200,063£214,4907.21%
Plymouth£167,420£178,2256.45%
Cheltenham & Evesham£214,278£227,4616.15%
Trowbridge & Warminster£184,549£195,4185.89%
Newbury£269,598£284,6315.58%
Yeovil & Chard£172,977£181,9235.17%
Lowestoft & Beccles£154,914£162,7295.04%
Chelmsford & Braintree£218,650£228,2994.41%
Southend & Brentwood£220,569£229,7814.18%
Bury St Edmunds£207,416£214,5133.42%
Harlow & Bishop's Stortford£255,247£261,9862.64%
Salisbury£219,398£224,3392.25%
Poole£220,677£222,9141.01%
Ipswich£175,795£177,3840.90%
Huntingdon£194,712£196,1860.76%
Thetford & Mildenhall£151,256£151,9090.43%
Portsmouth£200,282£200,5690.14%
King's Lynn & Fakenham£149,349£149,4580.07%

Note1: The table above contains examples of positive conservation area price differences. Prices are mean sales prices over the time period from 1995 to 2010 adjusted to 2010 prices. The percentage difference is in 2010 prices and assumed to be proportionate over the study period. Analysis is all based on Nationwide building society's data.

Note2: Sample restricted to areas with at least 100 transactions inside conservation areas and 1000 outside conservation areas

Some of those surveyed in conservation areas around London said:

Resident, Brentham gardens:

'I do think there is a unique architectural interest here and if standards are relaxed, even slightly, it is a very slippery slope to losing the character of the neighbourhood.'

Resident, de Beauvoir town:

'.. It is a really mixed area... there is a very mixed social strata of people living here. I imagine in other conservation areas it is like all very rich people but here there are lots of tenants, it is not all privately owned so there's a lot of people from different social background and I like that.'

Resident [Unidentified location]

'The borough places a lot of importance on preserving the look of the environment, so I think we therefore have a positive mind-set towards heritage … so even if they would refuse something we would like to do, we would understand the rationale behind it'.

For full details of the research, please see Value of conservation areas.

PROFESSIONAL
Value of conservation areas