Conservation Areas were introduced in 1967 and Local Planning Authorities were required to identify 'areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance'.
Conservation is not the same as preservation. The designation of a conservation area does not mean that everything will be preserved, or that there will be an end to new development. The right sort of development may enhance an area, and will be encouraged.
The special architectural and historic interest of the character and appearance of Howden was appraised in 1974 and re-appraised in 2009. This was reflected in its status as an 'outstanding' Conservation Area until this higher level designation ceased to be used in the 1990s.
The appraisal document defines Howden's special interest as follow: 'The special character or appearance of the Conservation Area at Howden is to be found in the survival of its historic core, largely intact. This not only applies to its street form, but also to its buildings whose traditional and historic materials are so important to the retention of their historic ambience.
It is focused around, and has at its core, one of the East Riding's most important Churches - arguably second only to Beverley Minster. This, because of the flatness of the surrounding terrain, is an important landmark for miles around'.
Howden Civic Society have implemented a Best Building Award Scheme for many years in order to encourage the development or conservation of buildings within the area so that the Conservation Area is enhanced.