The first conservation areas were designated in 1967. In total England has over 8000. English Heritage has a dedicated site for Conservation Area Guidance.
Conservation areas are defined as ‘areas of special architectural or historical interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’. Local planning authorities such as Peterborough City Council are required to designate areas that possess this special interest as conservation areas and to ensure that the character and appearance is protected. They also have a responsibility to appraise these areas and develop management plans for them. These are then reviewed as required. There are 29 designated conservation areas in Peterborough. Details of these can be found here. Peterborough City Centre Conservation Area is designated by English Heritage as being ‘At Risk’.
Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990: An Act to consolidate certain enactments relating to special controls in respect of buildings and areas of special architectural or historic interest with amendments to give effect to recommendations of the Law Commission.
Conservation Area Consent note from the Planning Portal (PDF).
Understanding Place: Conservation Area Designation, Appraisal and Management, English Heritage (PDF)
Understanding Place: Historic Area Assessments in a Planning and Development Context, English Heritage (PDF)
Understanding Place: An Introduction, English Heritage (PDF)
Conservation Bulletin 47 – Characterisation, English Heritage (opens as web-page)
Valuing Places – Good Practice in Conservation Areas, English Heritage (PDF)