Conservation and the City

Conservation and the City

Conservation and the City

Conservation and the City


This study looks at conservation and change throughout the built environment and how the activities of conservation interact with the planning system. It presents possible solutions for managing change in the built environment of the future.


On looking around in any city, town or even village, it is evident, sometimes painfully so, that our built-up areas are changing fast. Despite the supposed increase in support for conservation, many fine buildings and their settings have been lost or maimed. Conversely, it can be argued that an overwhelming respect for the old and fear of the new has stifled architectural creativity in recent years. Are we now creating buildings that will, in half a century or so, be worthy of statutory protection?

This book addresses the problems of old and new in urban areas. First, by providing a background to conservation, then with studies of how much change is occurring, of what type, and who is involved in the processes of change. Lastly there is commentary on changes, on the forces that produce them, and on the lack of any theory that would support the management of change. The arguments are based largely on micro-scale studies in UK conservation areas, but examples from further afield are used as appropriate.

This is primarily an academic book, of interest to scholars and professionals involved in urban change. But it is also intended for a wider public readership, for there is an undeniable public impact of continuing change in historical areas. Academics, professionals and the general public should all be aware of what is going on, and why. It must be more generally understood that not all urban landscapes can be preserved without change, but the practical implications of this, the decisions underlying the selection of what is kept, and the relating of new development to historical urban landscapes, must also be clearly understood. There are differences between these concepts as applied to towns and buildings, and to other fields such as works of art and machinery; these parallels are also briefly examined.

This approach to change in the historical urban landscape requires the making of value judgements - something that academic study is often reluctant to do. But all of us, every day, make value judgements in our own responses to buildings old and new, and the relationships between them. This book seeks a basis for making informed judgements. Although some parts contained here may be familiar from journal papers appearing over the last decade, I hope that readers will find something new in the bringing together for the first time of these disparate ideas and examples. Yet, because this is an exploration of a topic, not merely description or hypothesis-testing, the

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