Rash of plastic windows, satellite dishes and poorly maintained urban fabric are blighting 'special' places

Historic English places from St Albans to Leicester risk losing their urban charm to plastic windows and doors, ugly satellite dishes and badly maintained roads and pathways, according to English Heritage.

The heritage body warned that Britain's 9,300 conservation areas, or spots that local councils have designated as having a “special character or appearance”, are at risk of serious disrepair through “neglect, decay or damaging change”.

English Heritage has identified 727 at-risk areas, including Leicester and Derby city centres, Clapham Junction in London, and Thetford in Norfolk.

A survey by the body found that 83% of conservation areas were blighted by uPVC windows and plastic doors, 60% had poorly maintained roads and pavements and 45% were afflicted by “street clutter”.

Other problems included unsympathetic extensions, advertising hoardings and neglected green spaces.

Dr Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said: “It is clear the problems fall into two main areas: what owners do to their properties and what councils do or fail to do to the streets, pavements, parks and public spaces.”

English Heritage has launched a campaign to get local authorities to work with the public to improve Britain's conservation areas.