BSCF Support for replacement of building at 13 Bridge Street
East Herts Council
|4 December 2012|
YOUR REF: 3/12/1887/LC & FP
13 BRIDGE STREET BISHOP'S STORTFORD
1. I am writing on behalf of the Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation to comment on the proposed demolition and replacement of a building in this part of the Bishop's Stortford conservation area.
2. The Civic Federation has every sympathy with the wish of Coopers to integrate this part of the site with the rest of their store to improve the retail space. We note that the technical advice provided by the applicants says that the existing building is not capable of economic adaptation and repair. However, the building is an important part of the conservation area.
3. The draft conservation area appraisal and management plan for Bishop's Stortford has the following to say about the purpose and importance of conservation areas generally:
‘Conservation Areas are environments which are considered worthy of protection as a result of a combination of factors such as the quality of design and setting of the buildings or their historic significance. In addition to the individual qualities of the buildings themselves, there are other factors such as the relationships of the buildings with each other, the quality of the spaces between them and the vistas and views that unite or disrupt them. The relationship with adjoining areas and landscape, the quality of trees, boundary treatments, advertisements, road signage, street furniture and hard surfaces, are also important features which can add to or detract from the Conservation Area.’
4. The point to note here is that while individual buildings in an area may have a significance which leads to them being listed, it is the overall grouping and appearance of buildings, their relationships with each other and with the views, open spaces and landscaping which together create the urban townscape and which establish the character of a conservation area which needs to be maintained or enhanced.
5. So, while 13 Bridge Street may have no particular architectural distinction in itself, it nevertheless plays a vital role in the street scene and is abutted by listed buildings on either side. Indeed, number 11 is described and illustrated (no 44) in Pevsner’s Buildings of England volume on Hertfordshire. Therefore, any redevelopment of this part of the site must be handled sensitively and respect what is there at the moment and what will be there after redevelopment.
6. In this context we would like the following points to be considered in the determination of these applications:
- We support the principle of providing an improved retail space which integrates this part of the group of buildings with the rest of Coopers’ store.
- Noting that the existing building is not capable of economic repair, the illustration of the replacement façade and roofline, while a pastiche, appears to be entirely in keeping with what is to be replaced, subject to choice of materials, and offers the potential for improvement for example by the provision of more sympathetic shop fronts than the present ones.
- A contemporary style of façade would not be in keeping with this environment.
- The buildings on either side of number 13 are listed. It is vital that the structural integrity of these listed buildings is not compromised by the proposed demolition and rebuilding works. Clearly this must be a risk because it is not clear how far number 13 acts as a structural buttress to the buildings on either side, and a modern replacement is likely to require deeper foundations than those which may exist at present.
7. So far as is possible within the permissions and consents required, EHDC should therefore seek to ensure that demolition does not commence without a firm commitment to the provision of a replacement building in accordance with the plans provided, and the works should be executed in such a way as to ensure that the integrity of the adjoining structures is not put at risk.
8. Overall, we welcome the proposals as an opportunity to improve this part of the conservation area, and hope that the development will be brought to a successful conclusion.
9. I am copying this letter to James Parker at Bishop's Stortford Town CouncilJOHN RHODES