Conservation areas

What is a conservation area?

A conservation area is defined in law as:

“An area of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance.”

Buildings, both listed and unlisted, make a large contribution to an area’s distinctive character or appearance.

The designation recognises that buildings do not exist in isolation but are part of the larger whole.

Factors that contribute to the charm and look of an historic area include;

  • the historic layout of roads and paths,
  • characteristic materials,
  • public and private spaces,
  • trees,
  • building uses,
  • other activities.

Do I live in a conservation area?

Darlington has 17 conservation areas.

Please use the map to find your address.

What effect does designation have?

Designation of a conservation area by the council introduces extra planning controls.

These make sure that any alterations do not detract from an area’s character or appearance.

Alterations should conserve or improve the special interest of an area.

Permitted development rights on residential properties and business premises allow people to carry out work without planning permission.

For example, the erection of garden buildings, front porches, or satellite dishes.

We understand businesses need to publicise their premises and function.

In a conservation area these rights are reduced.

For example, an application may be required for the following works;

For business premises;

  • signs,
  • lighting,
  • use of colour,
  • relationship of ground floors to upper floors,

must respect the character or appearance of the conservation area. Especially on road frontages where businesses group.

Applications that would affect the character or appearance of a conservation area must be advertised in local newspapers.

It is an offence not to follow the current regulations.

What is the character of a conservation area?

The design of new buildings and alterations would be expected to be in keeping with the character or appearance of the conservation Area.

The council has adopted character appraisals for many of its conservation areas.

They define;

  • What influences have given the area its peculiar character.
  • What aspects of the area contribute positively to the character.
  • What has suffered damage or loss that would be worthy of reinstating.
  • Features or sites that might be improved by redevelopment or enhancement.
  • Features that make a negligible contribution to the area.
  • How management would support the aims of Conservation Area designation.
  • Landscape features and potential for tree planting.

Contacts and advice

Further information on conservation area character appraisals is available from:

Historic England advice note 1 [external link]

Darlington Borough Council Historic Assets Officer,

email: [email protected].

Download a map of a specific area

Some of these conservation areas are currently undergoing character appraisals.

Install our web app.