LOCAL conservation areas should be protected.

That’s the message coming from English Heritage, who have also established a link between house prices and the condition of local conservation areas.

A survey of estate agents, conducted by English Heritage, has found that the overwhelming majority of participants value conservation areas because of their special character and their financial benefits.

The poll coincides with this year’s English Heritage at Risk register.

The register this year focuses on conservation areas that are in danger of being spoilt and English Heritage will soon be announcing the results of the first ever study into the condition of England’s 9,300 conservation areas.

It will also be launching a campaign to help residents and councils work together to improve these special places for future generations to enjoy.

Conservation areas found to be at risk of neglect, decay or being spoilt by unsympathetic changes will be identified so that local councils and communities can prioritise actions and resources to improve them.

Examples will also be given of places where joint initiatives by councils and local people have achieved great results.

Now the views of estate agents have added weight to the push to see our most cherished and distinctive neighbourhood safeguarded.

English Heritage teamed up with market researchers BDRC to quiz estate agents on the link between property values and conservation areas.

The results show that:

 Three-quarters of estate agents believe that a well-maintained conservation area adds to the value of the properties within it - confidence in the area retaining its character and the attractiveness of the environment were the two key reasons cited

 82% felt that original features tend to add financial value to properties and 78% believed they helped a property to sell more quickly

 Nearly 50% reported that residential properties within conservation areas were selling for more than equivalent properties outside.

For more information about the campaign launch and for a free campaign pack, register at www.english-heritage.org.uk/conservationareas.