After a significant campaign by GLERA and the Barbican Association (BA) the Barbican and Golden Lane Conservation Area was designated in February 2022.

The buildings of both Golden Lane Barbican Estates are listed and therefore already designated heritage assets, hence it is primarily the setting of the estates and the historical importance of the area that conservation area status will help to protect, in particular the massing and appearance of future developments and proposed demolitions within the area.

The City of London has 28 conservation areas which are areas of special architectural and historic interest, the character and appearance of which are desirable to preserve or enhance and to which special planning controls are applied to developments.

CoL website


In April 2017 the BA and GLERA approached the City with proposals for a new conservation area to include the Barbican and Golden Lane Estates and surrounding areas (red lined boundary on map below).

In May 2017 the City agreed to undertake an assessment of the proposed area. In short rather than considering the area as a whole, the assessment divided the area into five separate zones and argued that only those of Golden Lane Estate (Zone 1) and Barbican Estate (Zone 2) met the criteria for conservation area designation. Click on buttons below images for full report.

  • Zone 1 | Golden Lane Estate
  • Zone 2 | Fann Street and Bridgewater Square
  • Zone 3 | Barbican Estate
  • Zone 4 | Brewery Conservation Area and other buildings
  • Zone 5 | Area to the south of Barbican Estate

There then followed a Public Consultation which closed in February 2018.

GLERA + BA analysis

Golden Lane Residents may be particularly worried about the exclusion of Zone 2, particularly Bridgewater Square, the Barbican Wildlife Garden and Welsh Church. Each zone was assessed using current Historic England guidance and the zone is allocated three out of the twelve available points – see page 14 of assessment and analysis report above. The bench mark for reconsideration is six and whilst there is a good case to argue for at least four other points it should also be noted that Paragraph 127, National Planning Policy Framework (2012) stipulates:

When considering the designation of conservation areas, local planning authorities should ensure that an area justifies such status because of its special architectural or historic interest, and that the concept of conservation is not devalued through the designation of areas that lack special interest.

National Planning Policy Framework (2012)

This means that Zone 2 (Fann Street and Bridgewater Square) does not itself have to be an area of special interest, just that it significantly affects the setting of both estates.


Point 14 of the Committee report (see above) states that “for consistency the boundaries of the proposed conservation areas would be identical to the listed building boundaries.” The criteria for listed status and conservation area status, though in many ways similar, are not identical and this suggested boundary does not take into consideration the setting of the estates or the history of the area.

Here is an extract from the Golden Lane Estate Listed Building Management Guidelines:

2.2 Significance of the estate as a whole and it’s context

The views from – as well as into – the estate have become important. Part of the special architectural interest of the estate lies in its relationship with adjacent buildings; their height, scale, mass, form, materials and detailing could, for example, have an impact on that special interest

Golden Lane Listed Building Guidelines

The estate was specifically designed with views in mind, and to maximise solar gain as a source of both heat and light to the properties and hence needs to be protected from over development in the area.


Alec Forshaw, town planner, urban designer and conservation officer with the London Borough of Islington from 1975 to 2007, wrote a report on the historical significance of the area and in his conclusion writes:

The area should be considered as whole, and as one which tells a remarkable story of post-war re-building. There is nothing unusual about conservation areas which contain contrasting elements within them (the Smithfield Conservation Area is good example of a large conservation area where the whole is greater than the sum of its contrasting parts).

It makes little sense and achieves minimal additional protection to designate two separate conservation areas encompassing only the curtilages of the listed the Golden Lane Estate and the Barbican. The areas between the estates and to the south of the Barbican, together with Islington’s St Luke’s Conservation Area to the north, are vital to the setting of listed buildings, and are of considerable interest in their own right, containing important heritage assets. They are worthy of the protection that would be afforded by conservation area status.

Alex Forshaw

The Barbican Association and GLERA also commissioned a report from Robinson Wild Consulting to review the City’s proposal. Their two key observations were:

  • Clarity is required on the proposed boundaries
  • There is an apparent absence of an adequate assessment of setting and that a more qualitative approach is to be expected from a conservation area assessment

GLERA response to consultation

Executive Summary

  • The City of London does not appear to have followed best practice as set down by
    Historic England for appraising the proposed Conservation Area.
  • Parts of the proposed Area have not been included/appraised. This may be in
    contravention of The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.
  • No satisfactory reason has been given why the proposed Area has been divided into
    zones and not taken as a whole. This division appears to go against Historic England’s
  • The appraisal of each zone has not been carried out to Historic England’s
    recommendations of best practice.
  • The appraisal of each zone appears to have been carried out against a checklist which is
    not applicable when considering a Conservation Area as a whole.
  • All of the area clearly meets the criteria set out in Historic England’s Advice Note 1 for
    the setting up of a conservation area.
  • The area as proposed by GLERA should be adopted as a whole or an independent
    historical and architectural appraisal be carried out to justify the area.
Tim Godsmark, Chair of GLERA