Matlock Bath lies between Matlock Dale to the north and Cromford to the south and is situated within the confines of a deep limestone gorge.
The majority of buildings line the valley adjacent to the River Derwent and there is also linear development which follows the contours of the northern hillside. It is an area of contrasts with a rich and interesting history. Thermal springs existed in the valley bottom for millennia but in the 17th century the beneficial and recreational benefits of the waters began to be utilised. 'Baths' were constructed from the 1700s onwards and these attracted visitors and development ensued. In association with this rise in popularity, associated woodland was laid out as public gardens (Lovers Walks) for residents and visitors to enjoy the picturesque scenery. Railway connections in the mid 1800s led to further expansion including the construction of elegant, detached villas, many with quirky and idiosyncratic details. In addition further recreational areas were developed for public enjoyment - Derwent Gardens and the Promenade. Georgian and Victorian properties are at the heart of the character of the area, in general the earlier buildings being rendered and often 'lined out', the later buildings in local stone, with brick used for the less prominent elevations.
Matlock Bath Conservation Area is a predominantly an urban area nestling within a wider landscape setting. To the north the boundary outlines the Heights of Abraham and follows development to the north of Masson Road before returning to the A6. Starkholmes Meadows to the east creates a further green landscape setting and provides a contrast to the overwhelming atmosphere of the gorge, the boundary then follows the high ridge of Lovers Walk until its separation with the grounds of Willersley Castle. In general the southern boundary follows the line of the Wapping bridleway and takes in the hamlet of Upperwood. The western boundary follows Upperwood Road and includes open landscape to the ridge beyond the road as well as sites of previous show caverns and mines.
The original designation of Matlock Bath Conservation Area was in September 1972 and further amendments were made in September 1978. In July 2006 following a review of the boundary in the Conservation Area Appraisal it was proposed (and approved) that the boundary remained unaltered. The Conservation Area currently comprises 88.42 hectares.
Within Matlock Bath Conservation Area there are 435 buildings, of which 33 are listed entries. All of the listed entries are Grade II. The listed buildings in Matlock Bath range from to churches to hotels, from cottages to telephone boxes. All are recognised for the contribution they make both individually and visually within the street-scene.
Matlock Bath Conservation Area contains no Scheduled Monuments.
Matlock Bath Conservation Area falls within the designated 'buffer zone' to the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, which became inscripted in 2001.
Matlock Bath Conservation Area Character Appraisal
In July 2006 a comprehensive Conservation Area Character Appraisal was approved, which assessed the special qualities of the character and appearance of Matlock Bath Conservation Area, both in terms of its buildings and the relationship of its spaces alongside those buildings. It assessed the archaeology; origins and development of the area; the architectural and historic quality; the setting and landscape of the area; an analysis of the character and considered the negative and neutral factors which impact on the Conservation Area. Coupled with this, the document made reference to planning policies and strategies that work to enhance and preserve the special character and appearance of the area. As part of the Appraisal no amendments were proposed to the boundary.
Buildings at Risk
None of the listed buildings within the Matlock Bath Conservation Area are recognised by the District Council as being 'at risk'.
Article 4 Directions
Where Article 4 Directions are in place in the District they remove specified 'permitted development 'rights from a property, which means that planning permission will be required for the works as specified in the Direction. In 1991 an Article 4 Direction was established in Matlock Bath Conservation Area for number of buildings both commercial and residential. The Direction was comprehensively reviewed and subsequently approved with modification in 2008 and a number of properties along Dale Road and North Parade and South Parade have Article 4 Directions attached to them. For further details as to the individual properties covered by the Direction and the restrictions on those properties, please refer to the Matlock Bath Article 4 Direction document.
Area of Special Control of Advertisements
Following approval by the Secretary of State in 1984 Matlock Bath and the surrounding area was designated as an Area of Special Control of Advertisements (ASCA).
This provides the Local Planning Authority with enhanced powers to control the display of advertisements as it introduces stricter limits for permitted heights and sizes of an advertisement.
The ASCA was reviewed in 1995, 2001, 2007 and most recently in 2012. In November 2012 the District Council approved the existing Area of Special Control of Advertisements without modification or revocation. For further details as to the area covered by the ASCA and the additional restrictions that it introduces, please refer to the Related Documents below.
Matlock Bath Conservation Area Map (PDF 238KB)
Matlock Bath Conservation Area Appraisal - Section 1 (PDF 3242KB)
Matlock Bath Conservation Area Appraisal - Section 2 (PDF 3735KB)
Matlock Bath Conservation Area Appraisal - Section 3 (PDF 1127KB)
Matlock Bath Article 4 Direction - Schedule (PDF 3284KB)