To report to Planning Policy and Local Plan Committee the third set of two ‘Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plans’ prepared for the Council by Essex Place Services, and for the Committee to agree a recommendation to Cabinet that they be published for consultation.
Earlier on in the meeting, as reported under Minute 19 above, Councillor Bush had declared for the public record that he was both the Ward Councillor for The Oakleys and Wix Ward and a member of Great Oakley Parish Council.
The Committee gave consideration to a comprehensive report of the Acting Director (Planning) (A.2) which reported to it the third tranche of ‘Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plans’ prepared for the Council by Essex Place Services, and requested that the Committee agreed a recommendation to Cabinet that they be published for consultation purposes.
Members were presented with the next two draft Conservation Area Appraisals, namely:-
Great Oakley Conservation Area; and
Kirby-le-Soken Conservation Area.
Alterations to Boundaries
After a detailed assessment, the boundary of the Great Oakley Conservation Area would remain unchanged.
For Kirby-le-Soken minor changes to the boundary were recommended.
Additions: The Conservation Area boundary should include the gardens of the properties within the Conservation Area. They formed the domestic curtilage and contribute to the understanding of land use, layout and an indication of the area’s development.
It was recommended to include the Oxborrows Yard, Maltings Lane. The site had historically been a service yard as noted on the Tithe Apportionment (1841). Therefore, it was considered to contribute to the Conservation Area’s historic development and character. The site had been formerly occupied by Oxborrow Engineering but at the time of the assessment was vacant. The Oxborrow Family, Blacksmiths and Engineers, had a long-standing association with Kirby-le-Soken and Tendring dating from 1812. The early nineteenth century forge had been demolished for residential development in 2004. The property was visible from within the Conservation Area and was an attractive nineteenth century industrial building, unique within the area, contributing to local character and appearance.
Reductions: It was proposed to remove the back land development behind Number 44-64 The Street as it undermined, and was inconsistent, with the historic grain of development. The development was of a low scale, however, it was visible in the skygaps between the properties fronting The Street; this detracted from appreciation of Kirby-le-Soken as an isolated settlement. The quality of the development did not positively respond to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area.
Designated Heritage Assets
The appraisals made note of the listed buildings, scheduled monuments and registered parks and gardens in each Conservation Area.
Proposed Non-designated heritage assets
Those buildings had been identified as they were either considered to be good examples of their type or architectural style; were prominent local landmarks, demonstrated use of local materials or design features, or were connected to local historical events, activities or people, and were all relatively complete in their survival.
At Great Oakley these were:
· The Three Cups, High Street
· Mill House Cottages (2 – 5 High Street)
· Cambria House, High Street
· Apple Tree Cottage and No. 2, High Street
· Pillbox outside Apple Tree Cottage, High Street
· Romaric, Queen Street
· The Maybush Inn, Farm Road
For Kirby-le-Soken these were:
Number 57, The Street was a one and a half storey weather-boarded dwelling with a slate roof. The property sat perpendicular to the road, gable ended with decorative barge boards and a finial painted white. There was a single storey porch entrance to the east elevation and a lean to on the west elevation, both covered in red clay pantiles. There was a slender red brick chimney to the rear. The small scale and attractive detailing made it a noticeable dwelling within the street scene. The property did have a larger modern extension to the rear, however, this did not visibly detract from the original scale and historic core of the property.
Waterloo House (Number 34, The Street) was a large, detached and double piled dwelling of two-storeys and rendered elevation. The frontmost pile sat under a slate roof and the rear was covered in red clay tiles. It was one of the larger dwellings running parallel to The Street, making it a visually prominent within the streetscene. The single storey outbuilding to the west of the property was present of the first edition Ordnance Survey map (1897) and could be contemporary with the principal dwelling. The first floor had six over six sash windows; the windows to the ground floor windows and central entrance appeared to be modern alterations.
Heritage at Risk
Neither of the Conservation Areas contrailed buildings or structures at risk. The Conservation Areas themselves were also not at risk.
Throughout those Conservation Areas there was the potential for a multitude of below-ground heritage assets yet to be discovered. In general, the appraisals promoted a cautious approach to development which might disturb or destroy those assets.
Assessment of significance
A detailed assessment of significance of each of the Conservation Areas had been carried out. Many of the Conservation Areas were split into distinct character areas. Each assessment considered the following features:
· Building materials and boundary treatments
· Listed buildings and non-designated heritage assets
· Other buildings
· Landscaping and open spaces
Opportunities for Enhancement
This section of each appraisal identified the issues facing the Conservation Areas which had been reviewed. A large number of the issues were common to all Conservation Areas, but where they were unique, that had also been highlighted, such as:
· Both of the Conservation Areas could benefit from enhancement to car parking including planting trees and a review of hard landscaping to ensure its historic appropriateness.
· For both areas, on-street parking detracted from the historic character of the Conservation Area.
· Kirby suffered from empty properties which could have a detrimental impact on the character of a place over time.
· Both Conservation Areas suffered from the loss of, or inappropriate use of, architectural detailing such as UPVC windows and doors, rainwater goods and external paintwork.
· In the Conservation Areas modern development usually resulted in a negative or neutral impact on the area as a whole.
· The Conservation Areas suffered from some poor maintenance of buildings.
For Great Oakley a couple of specific issues had been highlighted namely:
A number of buildings within the Conservation Area had been fitted with solar panels on their roofs, including several modern buildings at the eastern end of the High Street. While solar panels were an important element in the move towards sustainable energy sources, they were a modern intervention which could be visually intrusive, introducing large expanses of dark, reflective surfaces onto the traditional roofscape of the Conservation Area which were at odds with its vernacular character and appearance. Some traditional roofscapes, such as thatched roofs and those on listed buildings, were unsuitable for solar panels. Generally, solar panels should be confined to rear roof slopes or secondary roof pitches which faced away from the main thoroughfares or placed on outbuildings, to reduce their impact on the character of the Conservation Area.
The Convenience Store at 9-10 High Street had suffered some unsympathetic alterations, most noticeably the overpainting of the red brick façade, leading to loss of historic detailing and lack of coherence with its neighbours. The large plastic signage blocked the lower part of one of the first floor windows, whilst the ground floor shop window was obscured with vinyl signage. Those features detracted from the character of the Conservation Area. Removal of the paint from the brickwork elevation, removal of the vinyl stickers and installation of a smaller painted timber sign would improve its appearance. This should be in line with the Essex County Council’s Shopfront Guidance.
There was also an area-specific issue at Kirby-le-Soken:
The Red Lion Public House had a large, tarmacked car park to the side stretching to Maltings Lane. The large expanse of hardstanding did have an urbanising effect, which detracted from the rural character and appearance of the Conservation Area. There was an opportunity to soften the appearance of the carpark through the addition of boxed planters or a gravel surface. Any changes to the carpark, however, should not undermine the openness of this section of the Conservation Area.
As outlined above, there were a wide range of issues facing each of the Conservation Areas, many of which shared common themes. This section recommended management proposals which addressed those issues in both the short and long term.
· The preparation a Local Heritage List of non-designated heritage assets was suggested for both Conservation Areas.
· The Council was encouraged to use its enforcement powers to prevent inappropriate development within both of the Conservation Areas.
· Joint working between different Council departments to promote public realm improvements was also suggested.
· The monitoring of trees and additions to tree planting within public open space was recommended.
· Publishing guidance for homeowners and businesses in Conservation Areas could help owners identify appropriate alterations to their properties within Conservation Areas.
· The timely renewal of those Conservation Area Appraisals could help to monitor change within the Conservation Areas more accurately.
· Wayfinding could help with legibility.
· Heritage lottery fund
· S106 Agreements
· Partnership Schemes in Conservation Areas
At the invitation of the Chairman, Councillor White, present in his capacity as Chairman of the Planning Committee, spoke of his positive experience and involvement with the review of the St Osyth Conservation Area and he encouraged Councillor Bush and other relevant Members to fully engage in the consultations around their own, specific Conservation Areas.
The Chairman (Councillor Turner) then read out the following statement:-
“I am pleased that this Committee and our Officers are progressing so well with the review of our Conservation Areas, with the rest to come by the end of this Municipal Year. I am also pleased that we have been able to write specifically to the properties in each of the respective areas to promote these important consultation activities.
Despite this, it strikes me from things I have seen both in my Ward and other areas, that there are still many residents and businesses with properties in our Conservation Areas who may be completely unaware of their location in an area of special architectural and historic character and the fact that there are certain responsibilities and controls placed upon them in respect of development, alterations and trees.
As we have demonstrated that it is possible to identify the properties that lie within each Conservation Area and we are aiming to have undertaken consultation in each of the 20 areas by the time our Council Tax bills go out in 2023, I would like to suggest to the Cabinet that we prepare a simple leaflet on Conservation Areas and their purpose and their implications and that this is printed in time to go out with the Council Tax Bill to all properties in those Conservation Areas. Communication and information is a key part of this Council’s adopted Heritage Strategy and I think this leaflet will support the objectives of that strategy.”
Having considered and discussed all of the information and advice contained in the Officer report and its appendices:-
It was moved by Councillor Bush, seconded by Councillor Chapman BEMand:-
RESOLVED that the Planning Policy and Local Plan Committee:
1. endorses the new Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plans for Great Oakley (Appendix 1) and Kirby-le-Soken (Appendix 2) Conservation Area;
2. recommends to Cabinet that the above documents (forming Appendices 1 and 2) be published for consultation with the public and other interested parties;
3. notes that Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plans for the District’s other un-reviewed Conservation Areas will be brought before the Committee in due course over the next 6 months; and
4. recommends to Cabinet that a leaflet be produced by Officers for the residents of properties in all of the District’s Conservation Areas and areas proposed, through the Conservation Area reviews, to be included in the Conservation Areas. Such leaflet to inform residents, in basic terms, of the purpose, implications and controls in relation to Conservation area status; and that the leaflets be distributed to the relevant households in those areas with the 2023 Council Tax Bill.