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Conservation Areas
Max Cashback

Introduction

Two large areas of the historic core of Godmanchester are designated as Conservation Areas to protect their appearance and historic integrity. This article has kindly been contributed by the Conservation team of Huntingdonshire District Council to explain what conservation areas are; how designation affects the owners and occupiers of properties within these areas; and the importance of the Godmanchester Conservation Area. It will be particularly useful to anyone wishing to carry out development within a conservation area.

What is a Conservation Area?

Conservation Areas were introduced in the Civic Amenities Act. This gave local planning authorities a duty to identify and protect areas of special architectural and historic interest. Since then the District Council has designated 62 conservation areas in Huntingdonshire including two separate conservation areas in Godmanchester.

The provisions of the 1967 Act are now incorporated in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. In addition, central government advice on conservation area matters is currently contained in Planning Policy Guidance Note 15. This gives advice on controls for the protection of historic buildings and conservation areas which the District Council must consider when looking at proposals affecting conservation areas.

What Makes an Area Special?

It is not only the buildings within an area which define its character. The spaces between buildings, street patterns ,features of archaeological interest, trees and land uses all make a valuable contribution to the character of an area.

Conservation in Godmanchester

Godmanchester was founded as a Roman settlement on the crossroads of the Via Devana from Colchester to Chester, and Ermine Street which linked London to York. Two conservation areas were designated in Godmanchester in 1972.

Plantagenet House Tudor House

The smaller of the two is centred on Ermine Street and the junction between this and Cambridge Road. This area is the site of the original Roman posting-station or market town which grew to cover an area of some 24 acres and was laid out in a formal pentagonal street pattern which is still in evidence today. It is typified by large timber framed houses such as The Gables and Tudor House as well as smaller properties like Plantagenet House, a 17th century timber framed cottage with a beautiful oriel window.

The CausewayThe larger conservation area is based on Post Street, West Street, and The Causeway, which is the heart of the prosperous medieval settlement in Godmanchester, and retains much of its village character and fine vernacular architecture. There is no high street or market place, but shops are scattered along several main thoroughfares, and the area is edged by old farmhouses and extensive commons. Island Hall is the grandest building on Post Street built in the mid 18th century which you can visit on some summer Sundays. To show that even in a conservation area the use of buildings can be flexible the former Rose and Crown Inn is now the Quaker Meeting House. At the other end of the conservation area West Street contains an amazing variety of historic properties ranging from the 3 storey red brick Farm Hall to small 18th and 19th century cottages and farm buildings.

The Council is soon to undertake a comprehensive appraisal of the conservation areas in Godmanchester. This will the clearly define the special architectural and historic interest that warranted designation. The appraisal will provide a sound basis for development control decisions and will reinforce proposals and policies for the preservation and enhancement of the area.

What are the Duties of the District Council?

Under the provisions of the Planning (Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas) Act 1990, the District Council must:

Designate areas of special architectural and historic interest as conservation areas, and review existing designated areas.
Pay special attention to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of a conservation area when considering applications for planning permission, conservation area consent and advertisement control.
Prepare and publish character statements for each conservation area, including proposals for their preservation and enhancement.

What are the Implications for the Owners and Occupiers of Properties in Conservation Areas?
In order to preserve and enhance conservation areas for the enjoyment of future residents and users the Council has additional powers of control over further development which has implications for the owners and occupiers of properties because:

New development must preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the area. The siting, scale, height, details and building materials will need to be very carefully chosen. Outline planning applications are not normally accepted because it is not possible to judge if a new building will fit into its surroundings.

Conservation Area Consent is needed to demolish any building more than 115 cubic metres in size; a fence, wall or railing higher than 1m where it adjoins a road or footpath; or 2m elsewhere.

There are restrictions on certain types of development which elsewhere would not require planning permission. These include various types of cladding; the insertion of dormer windows; the erection of satellite dishes, and the size of extensions.

You will need to apply to the Council if you wish to fell or do any works to most trees within conservation areas.

Please remember that this is just a brief summary of the Council's additional powers in conservation areas. For more advice please contact the Planning Department at Huntingdonshire District Council, tel 388 388

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