COUNCILLORS have agreed to protect a former 18th Century racecourse.from development.

Richmondshire District Council has designated the racecourse on Low Moor, Richmond, as a conservation area.

One of the main features of the course is a Grade II listed grandstand, built in 1776.

By giving the course conservation area status, it is hoped the structure, which has been placed on the English Heritage register of buildings at risk, can be prevented from falling further into disrepair and may even be restored to its former glory.

A conservation report carried out in 2001 said: "Richmond Racecourse is the best preserved 18th-through-19th Century racecourse in England and is of national significance."

The racecourse at Low Moor was established in 1765, having moved from Richmond High Moor.

Racing continued until 1891. Since then, the track has been maintained by Richmond Burgage Pastures Committee for use by local racehorse trainers.