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Conservation and Planning

Our conservation role has very close links with research. The more we understand what shaped our parks and gardens in the past, the better we can show the significance of what survives today.

Gardens are very vulnerable to change. They can last for centuries, and disappear slowly by neglect - or in a few days when the diggers move in.

There is strong development pressure across Bedfordshire, especially for new housing, on greenfield as well as brownfield sites. That pressure won’t go away. Conservation is about managing change, not trying to make the world stand still.


 Reviewed 18/03/2023

Local Plans

image of shaping where you live 2035

We respond to consultations on local plans in our three Unitary Authorities – Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, and Luton - to get the policy framework right. Local councils are generally stronger on historic buildings and general “greenness” than they are on historic landscapes.

Reviewed 18/03/2023 

Planning Applications

image of the planning system in England and the protection of historic parks and gardens

The Gardens Trust is a statutory part of the planning system, and has to be consulted on all planning applications affecting parks and gardens registered by Historic England [link to pdf on home page]. County Gardens Trusts do most of the casework.

The Gardens Trust has sent copies of this guidance on the planning system and the protection of historic parks and gardens to all local planning authorities

You can download a copy from the Publications page of the website:

 Reviewed 18/03/2023

Casework Example: Bandstand at Wardown Park Luton

image of Bandstand at Wardown Park Luton

The Edwardian bandstand used to look like this – a light structure through which vistas of the park could be seen. It fell into disuse and was demolished in the 1960s leaving an empty space where there should have been an elegant focal point.

A very well-intentioned project for an new bandstand in the Park led to a planning application for a solid structure - a modern soundstage. Bedfordshire Gardens Trust objected to it, because it wasn’t a good fit with the Park – it blocked historic views in several directions.

The application was withdrawn and resubmitted with a much better design, still modern and versatile but keeping the historic views.

Although it isn’t part of the statutory role, we are also interested in planning applications affecting parks and gardens of local importance. We are trying to build up local lists of these sites through our research and networking.

We want to work with others on all this – Friends organisations for particular sites who really understand their local areas, local history societies, CPRE etc.

If you think you can help, or know of a potential threat to a local historic parks and gardens site, contact




Reviewed 18/03/2023