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Game of Zones: The Political Economy of Conservation Areas


  • Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt
  • Kristoffer Möller
  • Sevrin Waights
  • Nicolai Wendland


Provided there are positive external benefits attached to the historic character of buildings, owners of properties in designated conservation areas benefit from a reduction in uncertainty regarding the future of their area. At the same time, the restrictions put in place to ensure the preservation of the historic character limit the degree to which properties can be altered and thus impose a cost to their owners. We test a simple theory of the designation process in which we postulate that the level of designation is chosen to comply with interests of local homeowners. The implication of the model is that a) an increase in preferences for historic character should increase the likelihood of a designation, and b) new designations at the margin should not be associated with significant house price capitalization effects. Our empirical results are in line with these predictions.

Suggested Citation

  • Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt & Kristoffer Möller & Sevrin Waights & Nicolai Wendland, 2014. "Game of Zones: The Political Economy of Conservation Areas," CESifo Working Paper Series 4755, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4755

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gibbons, Stephen & Machin, Stephen, 2005. "Valuing rail access using transport innovations," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 148-169, January.
    2. Gabriel Ahlfeldt, 2011. "If Alonso Was Right: Modeling Accessibility And Explaining The Residential Land Gradient," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(2), pages 318-338, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt & Nancy Holman, 2015. "Distinctively Different: A New Approach to Valuing Architectural Amenities," SERC Discussion Papers 0171, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    2. Christian A. L. Hilber & Charles Palmer & Edward W. Pinchbeck, 2017. "The Energy Costs of Historic Preservation," SERC Discussion Papers 0217, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    3. Gabriel Ahlfeldt & Pantelis Koutroumpis & Tommaso Valletti, 2017. "Speed 2.0: Evaluating Access to Universal Digital Highways," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 586-625.
    4. Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt & Wolfgang Maennig & Felix J. Richter, 2017. "Zoning in reunified Berlin," Working Papers 059, Chair for Economic Policy, University of Hamburg.
    5. Kristoffer Moeller, 2013. "Culturally clustered or in the cloud? Location of internet start-ups in Berlin," ERSA conference papers ersa13p455, European Regional Science Association.
    6. Mark van Duijn & Jan Rouwendal, 2015. "Sorting based on Urban Heritage and Income: Evidence from the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 15-030/VIII, Tinbergen Institute.
    7. Felix Richter, 2014. "Winner Picking in Urban Revitalization Policies: Empirical Evidence from Berlin," ERSA conference papers ersa14p1424, European Regional Science Association.
    8. Mark van Duijn & Jan Rouwendal & Richard Boersema, 2014. "Transformations of Industrial Heritage: Insights into External Effects on House Prices," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 14-122/VIII, Tinbergen Institute.
    9. Hans R.A. Koster & Jan Rouwendal, 2015. "Historic Amenities and Housing Externalities: Evidence from The Netherlands," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 15-023/VIII, Tinbergen Institute.
    10. van Duijn, Mark & Rouwendal, Jan & Boersema, Richard, 2016. "Redevelopment of industrial heritage: Insights into external effects on house prices," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 91-107.
    11. Sevrin Waights, 2016. "The Preservation of Historic Districts - Is it Worth it?," SERC Discussion Papers 0202, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    12. ., 2014. "Urban policies," Chapters,in: Urban Economics and Urban Policy, chapter 8, pages 185-218 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item


    designation; difference-in-difference; RDD-DD; England; gentrification; heritage; property value;

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • R40 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - General
    • R58 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Regional Development Planning and Policy


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