Our fantastic team of volunteers helps to assess Conservation Areas and Buildings of Local Interest in Cambridge.

Cambridge Conservation Areas

Conservation Areas are created where a local planning authority (in our case Cambridge City Council) identifies an area of special architectural or historic interest, which deserves careful management to protect its character.

As part of this process, a document is created that describes the history and evolution of the area. It highlights things that are noteworthy, including buildings, trees, open spaces, and other architectural or significant features. The document also highlights potential threats to the area, as well as suggesting opportunities for improvements.

There is an obligation for the council to review and amend this document every five years (known as a Conservation Area Appraisal). However, Cambridge City Council's capacity to undertake this work is limited.

Any proposals for new development must take account of their impact on a Conservation Area.

Cambridge has 17 Conservation Areas at present, although the large Central Core Conservation Area has been broken down into smaller areas. Visit Cambridge City Council conservation areas to find out more.


Buildings of Local Interest in Cambridge

Buildings of Local Interest are buildings that make a positive contribution to an area but are not sufficiently important to be Listed. Buildings of Local Interest are designated by Cambridge City Council (click here for a list of BLIs in Cambridge).

Any proposals for new development must take account of their impact on a designated Building of Local Interest. For example it may mean that the building can not be demolished.

What does Cambridge Past, Present & Future do?

Volunteers for Cambridge Past Present & Future's Heritage Watch Group work with the City Council to help them update their Conservation Area Appraisals and Buildings of Local Interest Register. We work with the Council's Conservation Team on approx. one Conservation Area a year. Our volunteers:

  • recommend the designation of Buildings of Local Interest
  • identify threats and opportunities for the Conservation Area 
  • create an accurate photographic record of the buildings in the area

The process of assessment is the same for each area, which involves walking every street in the Conservation Area and noting changes since the previous appraisal, taking photos and writing up a report. Whenever possible we involve local residents and councillors in this process.


Chesterton and Ferry Lane Conservation Area Appraisal

In 2018 our volunteers started carrying out an appraisal for this Conservation Area in the northeast of Cambridge. This area is characterised as a suburb of Cambridge and is mainly residential, although there is a commercial core along the High Street with shops and services. Remnants of its former 'industrial' history are evident within the area such as the mid-19th century workshops off Union Lane and the 20th century former Pye factory off St Andrew's Road.

De Freville Conservation Area Appraisal

In 2017 we carried out a review of the De Freville Conservation Area in Cambridge. This area is characterised by the planned nature of its growth and fortunately remains largely intact today. The area was laid out on a grid plan that was characteristic of the development style for Victorian residential suburbs. There are a range of dwelling types with narrow streets and small mid 19th century terraced workers' cottages. Later in the evolution of the area, larger and more substantial dwellings or 'suburban villas' were built catering to the middle classes. 

The review involved our volunteers coordinating with local residents and Councillors to walk every street comparing and contrasting against the existing document, taking photos and reviewing the situation. We submitted an application to designate a building for the Council's Building of Local Interest Register, which included getting permission from the owner to visit the building and view the interior as well as exterior.

In 2018 Cambridge City Council updated the appraisal accepting the majority of our recommendations and approved the BLI designation.


Storey's Way Conservation Area Appraisal

In 2016 we carried out a review of the Storey's Way Conservation Area in Cambridge. This area is early 20th Century suburban and has three distinct areas: main central area lined with large detached dwellings, the Colleges and their grounds, and the Ascension Parish Burial Ground. Another key feature are the large mature trees, which lessen the impression of ‘urbanity’ and present a compact, semi-rural ‘face’.

Central Core Conservation Area Appraisal

In 2015-16 we carried out a review of the Central Core Conservation Area in Cambridge. This was a very intense project as the Central Core area has been broken down into eight smaller areas. We had great support from our volunteers and submitted our recommendations to the City who took on board most of our comments as well as welcoming an accurate photographic record. 

The Central Conservation Area was designated on 25 February 1969. It was the largest Conservation Area in the City and has recently been split into smaller areas: Castle and Victoria Road, The Kite, Mill Road, New Town and Glisson Road, and Riverside and Stourbridge Common.