Conservation Areas

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Friday 29 April 2005 7.03am
Does anyone know anything about the specifics of what being within a conservation area actually entails? I live in the Thorburn Square conservation area (the rows of Victorian houses that include Balaclava Road, Fort Road, Alma Grove, Reverdy Road etc.) and nobody seems to practice any form of active conservation.

I know that if you submit a planning application you have to go through another layer of approval with the conservation officer.

What I need to find out is what the council should be doing, if anything, to protect the area. There seems to be no control, with people fitting modern windows, porches, satellite dishes and in some instances actually fitting protruding bay windows to flat-fronted Victorian terraces. I know this sound prudish but it's really spoiling the look and feel of traditional Victorian streets.

The reality of modern life means that I can start raising complaints about this as I have to live in the area and it would likely result in a backlash, and I don't think I should be the one having to instigate enforcement of planning rules.

Does anyone know of the legal framework that would define the council's duty of care in this matter?

Many thanks.
Friday 29 April 2005 9.24am
JGarcia asked: Does anyone know anything about the specifics of what being within a conservation area actually entails?

Being within a Conservation Area means that planning applications, whilst still subject to all normal planning legislation, will also be measured against the objectives of the Conservation Area

JGarcia asked: What I need to find out is what the council should be doing, if anything, to protect the area.

Obtain a copy of the original designation document for the Conservation Area and measure any application against that document. Draw that document to the attention of the planning officer when an application is lodged.

JGarcia said: ..............I can start raising complaints about this as I have to live in the area and it would likely result in a backlash, and I don't think I should be the one having to instigate enforcement of planning rules.

Objecting to a planning application is an individual right. The applicant has the right to apply and the individual has the right to object. Many of the changes that you mention may have slipped through because no-one cared.

Suggestion: Write to the Conservation Section of Southwark Planning and ask to attend the next meeting of Southwark's Conservation Areas Advisory Group (CAAG). This is made up of representatives from some of Southwark's 33 Conservation Areas as well as representatives from some relevant amenity groups (The Georgians, SPAB etc). This will help you understand the process.

Get a copy of the original designation document for the Thorburn Square CA and become familiar with the features of the square that the designation was meant to protect.

Find out if Southwark Council has created a policy document for the Thorburn Square CA and, if not, lobby for its creation. The original designation document and a policy document will spell out what are considered to be valuable features and make it far easier to establish if an application is appropriate.

Apply to the CAAG to represent the Thorburn Square CA on the CAAG.

Regards and best

Niall
Friday 29 April 2005 4.02pm
Niall. Thanks very much for this, really appreciate all this information.
Friday 29 April 2005 5.16pm
JG

I'm glad that the information may be of help.

Its useful to consider the Bermondsey Street CA as a good example of how a CA can be misunderstood. In recent years many local people came to believe that the CA was about Victorian 4 storey brick built warehouses. As a result the CA has been disfigured by a faux-warehouse style of architecture and height has been suppressed.

However, examination of the original 1971 designation document shows that the buildings were not the primary subject of the designation. The CA sought to protect the medieaval plot layout which was, at that time, visible behind the street elevations and accessible through arches and alleyways which led away from the street into the backlots (eg Camarthen Place).

Sadly, the focus on faux warehouse architecture has led to some really abysmal buildings being built, most of which have amalgamated plots and destroyed any signs of the mediaeval plot layout. At the same time, many new buildings have gated access, again completely contrary to the intention of the designation.

Its therefore very important to find out why the CA was designated in the first place. What were the features deemed of value? Are there any other features which might be worthy of protection? Lobbying for a policy document might offer the chance to cover anything missed the first time around.

It might also be useful to look at a copy of any designation documents for similar CA's to see if they offer pointers.

Best wishes.

Niall

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