In the Netherlands, there are more than 400 government designated urban and village conservation areas. The legal basis for this can be found in Article 35 of the Monuments and Historic Buildings Act 1988 [Monumentenwet 1988]. In addition, some municipalities have designated certain areas as protected on the basis of the local heritage bye-law.
The Cultural Heritage Agency has published two guides for municipalities, heritage experts and other interested parties:
When does a field have cultural-historical importance?
It may have acquired this importance over the course of centuries, for example in the city centre of Leiden or Sneek. It may also be due to its design, as is the case with the mining communities in South Limburg or the villa neighbourhoods in the Gooi area. Then there is the industrial landscape of the Queen Wilhelmina Harbour [Koningin Wilhelminahaven] in Vlaardingen, which is so valuable that it is eligible for protection.
edited January 19th 2018
Designating urban and village conservation areas
The State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science and the Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment can designate a valuable area as a government-protected urban and village conservation area. They might do so to safeguard its historical character now and in the future. This is done using the zoning plan that the municipality draws up following the designation.
The designation applies per period. The government is currently completing the designation of conservation areas which came about in the period 1850-1940.
Protecting urban or village conservation areas
The protection of a conservation area concerns the historical structures. That means that new buildings can be added to a protected conservation area. What is more, a building's use can also change, provided this is in line with the character that has developed throughout history.
Protecting conservation areas and protecting premises may supplement, but not replace, each other. The conservation area protection focuses on the urban planning characteristics with a view to securing safeguarding its future functioning. Protecting the premises is intended to safeguard the architectural image and preserve the authenticity of the material.
No subsidy schemes exist for protected urban and village conservation areas. It is therefore not the case that the premises within a protected conservation area automatically acquire the status of listed building.