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Planning and building

Heritage topic paper

The historic environment of our area is internationally, nationally, regionally and locally significant - our heritage topic paper is a document which provides a background to how York's special character has evolved, as part of the 'evidence base' for our Local Plan.

The heritage topic paper uses evidence and understanding to explain the six principle characteristics of the historic environment that help define the special qualities of York and its complex 2,000 year history:

  • strong urban form: townscape, layout of streets and squares, building plots, alleyways, arterial routes, and parks and gardens
  • the city’s compactness
  • landmark monuments: in particular the City Walls and Bars, the Minster, churches, Guildhalls, Clifford’s Tower, the main railway station and other structures associated, with the city’s railway, chocolate manufacturing heritage
  • architectural character: this rich diversity of age and construction displays variety and order and is accompanied by a wealth of detail in window and door openings; bay rhythms; chimneys and roofscape; brick; stone; timber; ranges; gables; ironwork; passageways; and rear yards and gardens
  • archaeological complexity: the extensive and internationally important archaeological deposits beneath the city. Where development is permitted, the potential to utilise this resource for socio-economic and educational purposes for the benefit of both York’s communities and those of the wider archaeological sector will be explored
  • the city’s landscape and setting within its rural hinterland and open green strays and river corridors, penetrate into the heart of the urban area and break up the city’s built form.

These characteristics define the city and set it apart from other similar cities in England and should be key considerations for enhancement and growth. It is important for development proposals to respond to York’s special qualities, character and significance whether in the historic core, urban fringe or rural village communities.

Also see


City of York Council, West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA