Letter: Conservation Area - Unnecessary painting of stone

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Harrogate town centre and many other areas around the town are stone built. A considerable element of the character of Harrogate is the high quality stonework of our terraces, crescents and villas.

Consequently, the conservation area in Harrogate is very extensive including areas around The Oval, Wheatlands Road East, East Parade, Grove Park Terrace, Kings Road, The Duchy Estate and Cold Bath Road. All properties facing the Stray and Valley Gardens are included.

Conservation Area policy does not cover all aspects of development that the council and others would like to have control over.

The council will sometimes instigate an Article Four direction which widens the scope of conservation area policy.

In 2006 an Article four direction was adopted that ruled that exterior masonry should not be painted without planning consent. This ruling applies over a large area of the town, most of our conservation area, in fact.

Painting exterior stonework can change the character of the town unacceptably if some buildings ‘stick out like a sore thumb’, especially when the norm is handsome natural stone. Some types of paint can cause damage by not allowing the stone to breathe.

The ‘no painting’ rule also applies to brick buildings. It seems to us that this restriction is not sufficiently known by the general public, including owners of affected properties.

Once painted, it can be further damaging to take it off.

Building owners may be allowed to repaint already painted stone and brick, but the policy says that permission must be sought so that there is control over the type of paint and the colour.

I’m not sure why there would be a desire to paint stone and brick externally. Eventually it has to be done again at considerable expense to maintain the building cosmetically. Layers of paint eventually obscure detail in stone work.

The civic society hopes that the word will spread about the Article Four direction and so avoid this unnecessary decoration that detracts from the style and quality of our conservation area.

Henry Pankhurst

Chairman,

Harrogate Civic Society