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Designated landscapes


This page gives you information about landscapes designated for their value at a national or international level.

In County Durham these include:  

  • North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • parks and gardens of national interest
  • the Durham Heritage Coast
  • Durham Cathedral and Castle World Heritage Site.

You can view interactive maps of their boundaries on the MAGIC (Multi Agency Geographic Information for the Countryside) website.  

The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)  

AONBs are designated for the purpose of conserving and enhancing their natural beauty, which includes landform and geology, plants and animals, landscape features and the rich history of human settlement over the centuries.  

The North Pennines contains some of England's wildest places. A beautiful and dramatic landscape of settled pastoral dales nestling between vast open moorland ridges and high brooding summits, it was designated as an AONB in 1988 and became Britain's first UNESCO European Geopark in 2003.

We are a member of the North Pennines AONB Partnership and we're committed to conserving and enhancing its natural beauty through the framework of action set out in the current AONB Management Plan 2009-2014. More information can be found on the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty website.

Historic parks and gardens

English Heritage maintains a Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. Parks and gardens on the register are included in Local Plans, which seek to protect their historic interest and special character and a number are also designated as Conservation Areas. You can find more information on the register on the English Heritage website.

County Durham is rich in historic parklands, particularly along the valley of the River Wear and in the upland fringes. Some are of medieval origins. Other parklands surround country houses of 19th Century industrial entrepreneurs. Historic parks are of great scenic value and are a living record of evolving English landscape design. There are 17 parks and gardens on English Heritage's Register in County Durham:

  • Auckland Park
  • Brancepeth Castle
  • Burn Hall
  • Bowes Museum
  • Ceddesfield Hall Gardens
  • Croxdale Hall
  • Hardwick Park
  • Lambton Park
  • Lartington Hall
  • Lumley Park
  • Old Durham Gardens
  • Pasmore Pavillion, Peterlee
  • Rokeby Hall
  • Raby Castle
  • Ramshaw Hall Garden
  • Windlestone Hall
  • The Castle, Castle Eden

Durham Heritage Coast  

The term Heritage Coast is a non-statutory definition of landscape which covers areas of coastline of high scenic value. These areas are managed so that their natural beauty is conserved and accessibility for visitors is improved.

After years of environmental damage from colliery wastes tipping, the Durham Coast has begun to recover its natural qualities, helped by the recent Turning the Tide project. Parts of the coast, where picturesque cliffs of Magnesian Limestone fall to sand and shingle beaches, were designated by the Countryside Agency (now Natural England) in 2002 as Heritage Coast.  

We are a member of the Durham Heritage Coast Partnership and are committed to conserving and enhancing the environment of the coast through action set out in the current Durham Heritage Coast Management Plan 2005-2010. You can find more information about the coast and the work of the partnership on the Durham Heritage Coast website.    

Durham Cathedral and Castle World Heritage Site

Durham Cathedral and Castle were designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1986.

Contact us
Landscape and Arboriculture
03000 267 139
Our address is:
  • Heritage, Landscape and Design
  • Planning Service
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DL1 5UQ
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