One of the great assets within the borough of Harrogate is its fine inheritance of historic towns and villages. Many of these town and village centres have been designated as conservation areas to protect their special character and the contribution that they make to the wider character of the district. Conservation areas are designated by the council.

What is a conservation area?

A conservation area is an area that has special architectural or historic interest, the character and appearance of which it is considered desirable to preserve or enhance.

Attributes that define the special character of an area may include:

  • the physical appearance of the area - the form and features of buildings and the spaces between them
  • history - the historical development of the area and former uses of buildings. Where there are different phases of historical development and expansion, the character of individual parts of the conservation area may differ
  • contrasts between the appearance of areas and the combination of various ages, materials, and styles may contribute to its special character

Designation by the council gives an area more protection against harmful development or redevelopment.

In our district, conservation areas vary in size from the large Harrogate conservation area, which covers the Victorian centre of the town, to small rural hamlets such as Middlesmoor.

Conservation area appraisals

These documents help define the special architectural and historic interest of an area to clarify why it merits 'designation'. An appraisal identifies the character of the area, and features which should be enhanced or conserved.

Each of the district's 53 conservation areas has a conservation area appraisal.

The appraisal is used as a sound basis for making decisions on planning applications and to inform local planning policies. It is an interesting read, it contains maps of the area, an overview of the historic development of the area and is a useful reference and guide for residents and visitors.


What changes can be made within a conservation area?

Within conservation areas, planning permission is required for some types of development that wouldn't normally need it. These include:

  • demolition of buildings or structures (including boundary walls) of a certain size
  • extensions of a certain size/position, build a new structure within the curtilage of a property
  • roof extensions, including dormer windows and raising the ridge of the roof
  • cladding any part of the outside of a house
  • the installation of a flue, chimney or soil and vent pipe if it would face a road and is on the side or front of the building
  • positioning a satellite dish on a wall, roof or chimney that faces a road or public space
  • solar panels / equipment on a wall that faces a road
  • some instances of biomass heating system flues, air source heat pumps and wind turbines
  • tighter controls over advertisements
  • trees - notification to the council is required when works are proposed to trees with a stem diameter of 75mm or more and that are 1.5m above the ground. For information and forms relating to tree works in conservation areas, please visit the works to trees page.

Article 4 directions

In addition to the above controls, Article 4 directions can be applied so that certain types of development (which normally would be classed as permitted development) will require planning permission. There are Article 4 directions for Great Ouseburn and parts of Harrogate, for more information, please visit our Article 4 direction page.

How do I find out if I live in a conservation area?

You can check our list to find out if a property falls within one of the 53 conservation areas in the district. A boundary map for each conservation area is included in its associated conservation area appraisal. Or you can search via My Property.

Where can I find out more information?

Additional information relating to conservation area legislation and other relevant considerations, such as designing appropriate new development and alterations to historic buildings, can be found within the council's supplementary planning guidance on heritage management.