BSCF's Comments on the Conservation Area ConsultationDetailed Response to Conservation Araa Appraisal
Conservation Area Appraisal - Map of the Five Areas
The Conservation Team
East Herts District Council
Wallfields, Pegs Lane
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:
- more robust treatment of buildings which detract from and are out of keeping with the general nature of the Conservation Area ie suggestions for replacement with more attractive buildings more appropriate to their location if ever the opportunity arises to correct the planning mistakes of the past eg Telephone Exchange, Boots the Chemist, Lloyds Bank.
- suggested locations where schemes to assist bringing houses/streets back to their former appearance could be encouraged. (eg para 6.54 ‘the quality of several 19th early 20th century terraces has been detrimentally eroded by permitted development’). Such schemes might encourage certain types of replacement windows, doors etc.
- planning officers insisting on the use of quality building materials in any new developments to avoid the disharmony caused by cheap bricks, windowframes etc seen in many locations in recent years.
- We would like to see more consistency of signage, shopfronts, street scene in the main shopping areas and steps taken to remove garish signs which detract from the historic atmosphere. Also restoration of original ‘quality’ stone paving in more areas eg Bridge Street, Church Street to enhance the setting of listed buildings.
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.