As part of the recent Civic Voice convention, over 20 workshops were held to give communities the chance to consider how they could play a greater role in local heritage management including carrying out conservation area appraisals, with a particular feature of the weekend was considering how civic societies can support local authorities through conservation area appraisals.
Civic Voice writes:
A Conservation Area Appraisal is an assessment of the current condition of the built environment and character of the landscape within a designated Conservation Area. The resulting report leads to a Supplementary Planning Document within the Local Planning Authority. That document will be used in considering development and planning matters and will inform decisions about managing the environment of the area.
One of the workshops to consider this subject was delivered by David White, Chair of The Deal Society. David explained that The Deal Society were asked by Dover District Council to carry out a series of conservation area character appraisals, which is a statutory responsibility which requires local authorities to keep conservation areas under review. David used the workshop to explain how it worked:
‘We first carry out detailed surveys based on the original model developed by the City of Oxford. The surveys are to evaluate the historic and current significance of the conservation area and are based on the Buildings, Spaces, Views and Landscapes, Roads and Pavements and Ambiance of the Conservation area. The surveys detail the current condition of the conservation area. It is understood as a partnership between the district Planning Authority and the Civic Society and both logos appear on the final Supplementary Planning Document.’
For its first appraisal the Deal Society chose the Nelson Street Conservation area including St. Andrew’s Church and grounds. During 2015, a small group of volunteers looked at this area. Every resident in the area received a short questionnaire to help in the research. The aim of the Appraisal is to understand the significance of the area as a whole, to assess its current condition and character and to identify any vulnerabilities and any opportunities for enhancement. The draft report which resulted from this work, was published by Dover District Council for public consultation in October 2016. The adopted Appraisal is a material consideration in assessing all planning applications, listed building and conservation area consents within the area.
So what does this report include?
- A report is drawn up including a Statement of Significance of the Conservation area and any recommendations that should happen e.g. imposition of Article 4(2) Direction, changes of boundaries, creation of local lists of heritage assets.
- The report is then submitted to the district council heritage team.
- Following any revisions the district council cabinet authorises a period of public consultation.
- The document is then further authorised and becomes a Supplementary Planning Document.
- You can learn more about The Deal Society toolkit here.
The toolkit comprises:
- Guide – Explains the process to undertake the appraisal
- Glossary – Explains the terminology used in the toolkit
- Forms – Forms to be filled in during the survey
- Report Template – A template which should be used to write the report for submission to the Planning Authority. This is specific to Dover District Council, other planning authorities may use different layouts, an example of a completed report is our Nelson Street Appraisal.
The Oxford Character Assessment Toolkit can be found at www.oxford.gov.uk/info/20193/character_assessment_toolkit.
We are grateful to the authors of that toolkit for their work which formed the basis of our toolkit.