BSCF's Comments on the Conservation Area Consultation

Detailed Response to Conservation Araa Appraisal
Conservation Area Appraisal - Map of the Five Areas

The Conservation Team
East Herts District Council
Wallfields, Pegs Lane
SG13 8EQ
April 2014

Dear Sirs

Bishop's Stortford Conservation Area Appraisal

I write on behalf of the Bishop’s Stortford Civic Federation and enclose its response to this consultation in the form of detailed comments on each area defined in the draft Appraisal document. Each defined area has been analysed by residents who live there and are extremely familiar with the area and its features.

Firstly, we would like to congratulate the author of the draft on producing a very interesting document. The Civic Federation welcomes this long-awaited Appraisal and looks forward to working with Conservation Officers to preserve and enhance the town’s heritage assets.

We would like to see included in the document greater depth of detail evidencing the town’s local distinctiveness. We feel this is vital to ensure developers recognise and understand the nature and character of our town.

We would suggest the following for inclusion at the end of paragraph 5.1:

The town centre still retains its Saxon street layout and is characterised by a mixture of fine buildings of relatively low height representing several eras of architectural design, giving it a human scale. The fine Georgian town houses of North Street, interspersed with older buildings dating back to the 16th buildings heading towards and along Potter Street, indicating the town’s long heritage. The welcoming and friendly atmosphere is evidence that local residents are justly proud of their ancient market town as a setting for buildings so deserving of preservation. Where opportunities for development exist, only those which are sensitive to and enhance this historic background should be considered. Proposals contained in the Appraisal appear sensible and sensitive to the specific heritage of the historic core of the town. The proposed additions of 41 non-listed buildings of important architectural or historic interest are supported. Most of the proposed additions will serve to ensure that street facades and interesting roof lines are preserved. Some potential additions are proposed and these are covered in the enclosed analyses of each defined Area. We also suggest additional areas which should be considered as extensions to the current Conservation Area. These include Warwick Road, Elm Grove, Hadham Road and Dane O’Coys/Cricketfield Lane.

In addition to the excellent proposals for preserving and improving ‘other distinctive features that make an important architectural or historic contribution’ (ie walls, steps etc), we would ask that consideration be given to restoring the pavements in some streets to their original form, thus ensuring these streets reflect their historic and aesthetic value from ground level and up through walls, to roofs. An example is Church Street, where paving slabs have been replaced by tarmac, which is totally out of keeping with the Victorian facades. This detracts from the distinctive character of the street.

In summary, we would like to see:

Throughout the document, the author refers to ‘formal protection’ being provided by ‘existing planning controls’. We are less than convinced that existing planning controls have proved robust enough in the past and hope steps are taken to ensure planning officers pay close attention to this.

Finally, we seek your assurance that the Conservation Area Appraisal will be reviewed more frequently than the 17 years that have elapsed since the last review. We feel the next review should be in 5 years’ time, in line with English Heritage recommendations.

Yours faithfully

Jill Wade