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No escape? The co-ordination problem in heritage preservation


  • Ahlfeldt, Gabriel M.
  • Holman, Nancy


Conservation areas (CAs) are among the most restrictive English planning policies. Designation implies a significant limitation of owners’ control over the shape and appearance of their properties. The policy, however, can also be argued to solve a sort of ‘prisoners’ dilemma’, in which it might be collectively rationale to preserve the character of an area, but an individual homeowner may be tempted to inappropriately alter their property, thus free-riding on nearby properties’ character. The net-benefit of the policy depends largely on the existence of positive ‘heritage effects’ and acknowledgement from homeowners that policy contributes to neighbourhood stability and the preservation of these positive effects. Our results of a mixed-method analysis of close to 1 million property transactions near to about 8000 CAs and 111 interviews with residents in nine representative CAs in Greater London suggest that positive heritage externalities exist and that residents in CAs tend to value their local environments, acknowledge the need for planning control and execute their right to object to neighbour’s planning request.

Suggested Citation

  • Ahlfeldt, Gabriel M. & Holman, Nancy, 2013. "No escape? The co-ordination problem in heritage preservation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 53936, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:53936

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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 Ahlfeldt & Kristoffer Möller & Sevrin Waights & Nicolai Wendland, 2012. "On prisoner's dilemmas and gilded cages: The economics of heritage preservation," ERSA conference papers ersa12p783, European Regional Science Association.
    2. Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt & Nancy Holman, 2015. "Distinctively Different: A New Approach to Valuing Architectural Amenities," SERC Discussion Papers 0171, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    3. 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.
    4. Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt & Wolfgang Maennig & Felix J. Richter, 2013. "Urban Renewal after the Berlin Wall," Working Papers 049, Chair for Economic Policy, University of Hamburg.

    More about this item


    designation; England; heritage; property value; prisoner’s dilemma;

    JEL classification:

    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • R52 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Land Use and Other Regulations


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