Conservation area appraisals
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4.1 Lichfield District contains a rich architectural heritage. Although the conservation interest of the District is dominated by Lichfield City Centre the rural area contains a number of relatively unspoilt villages, many of which have been designated as Conservation Areas. Most of the Conservation Areas in the District were designated by the County Council in the early 1970's under the 1967 Civic Amenities Act and since then have been given protection against inappropriate development.
4.2 The Plan area contains a large number of Listed Buildings, mainly concentrated in Lichfield and other Conservation Areas, but also in more isolated positions in rural areas, particularly large houses. They represent a significant resource of architectural and historic interest. A re-survey of the listed buildings register was carried out by English Heritage for Lichfield and the rural parts of the District during the late 1980's and as a result many additional buildings were added to the list. Listed buildings represent a wide cross-section of agricultural, ecclesiastical, commercial and residential properties.
4.3 It is the District Councils aim to ensure that the Conservation Areas and listed buildings are protected from development which would be inappropriate in terms of siting, design and materials. This does not mean that new development in Conservation Areas should not be permitted, but that Council's objective is to ensure that new development contributes positively to the character of the Area.
4.4 In recent years the Council has considered whether there were additional areas which merit Conservation Area status and as a result have designated new Conservation Areas at Hints, Fazeley, Bonehill and the Trent and Mersey Canal. The Conservation Areas in Clifton Campville and Colton have recently been extended and the Sill Green Conservation Area has been de-designated. When the Local Plan was placed on deposit there were twenty one Conservation Areas within the District.
4.5 Conservation policy should not be seen merely as protection but also enhancement. For some years the District Council has aided the repair and renovation of individual buildings of architectural and historic merit where appropriate and within limited resources will continue to do so. It has carried out significant improvements to Lichfield Conservation Area and more recently has been involved in improvements to Fazeley and Hopwas Conservation Areas. Policies included within this Local Plan aim to widen the scope of positive conservation work into further Conservation Area improvements, advice and the encouragement for local groups to work to improve the District's heritage.
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Policy C.1: Listed Buildings
1. Demolition of Listed Buildings will not be permitted unless unequivocal evidence is provided that their condition makes it impracticable to repair, renovate or adapt them to any reasonable beneficial use for which planning permission would normally be given and the building cannot be sold on the open market for any purpose. The District Council will not grant consent for such demolition until planning permission for a replacement has been granted and a contract for the redevelopment of the site has been let.
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2. The District Council will give particular scrutiny to proposals which affect the structure or setting of Grade 1 and 2* listed buildings. In considering planning applications for such development the Council will give considerable weight to the advice of statutory bodies having a responsibility for such buildings.
3. Alternative uses for Listed Buildings which retain their structure and character will be supported. Planning permission will not be granted for changes of use of parts of Listed Buildings which do not provide for the long term conservation of the structure and fabric of the building as a whole.
4. The Council may in certain circumstances be prepared to relax building regulation controls in respect of work to Listed Buildings to enable their essential character to be retained, subject to the safety of the building, its occupants or the surrounding area not being impaired.
5. Adequate protection and support to Listed Buildings will be required during building or conservation work. Proposals for the repair, renovation or adaptation of Listed Buildings involving structural changes will be required to be accompanied by an adequate structural survey.
6. Development which adversely affects the setting of Listed Buildings will not be permitted.
7. Prior to determining applications for Listed Building Consent, the District Council will in appropriate cases, require a detailed evaluation of the building's archaeological and historic significance, and the effects of the proposal on this, to be submitted in support of the application.
4.6 The main purpose of the policies for listed buildings is to secure their long term retention. In many cases the original purpose of the building has gone and new uses need to be found which retain the integrity of the original structures. Retaining only a facade is not considered to be a satisfactory design solution for schemes involving major refurbishment of listed buildings. Proposals for the use of parts of Listed Buildings can run the risk of neglect of the remainder and are not consistent with the aims of achieving long term conservation. In some cases the merits of proposals will need to be considered in the context of the history and significance of the building and such information may need to be sought from the applicant.
4.7 The setting of a listed building often contributes to its overall character and appearance and therefore the Council will seek to prevent development which would damage the setting of such buildings.
4.7a The Council will make every effort to assist in provision of grants from whatever source to assist owners in meeting the objectives of this policy.
Policy C.2: Character of Conservation Areas
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Development will be permitted in Conservation Areas provided it would enhance or preserve the character of the Conservation Area. Development will not be permitted where:-
(a) Development would prejudice the essential features of the Conservation Area, including historic plan form, relationship between buildings, the arrangement of open areas and their enclosure, grain, or significant natural or heritage features.
(b) The detailed design of buildings, including height, density, mass, layout, proportions, or materials would not respect the character of an area.
(c) The development would prejudice the setting and surroundings of a Conservation Area or spoil the inward or outward views.
(d) Where a proposed use of land would prejudice the appearance or ambience of a Conservation Area.
(e) In order to determine the effect of proposed building and engineering works in Conservation Areas the District Council will require the submission of detailed Plans and will not grant outline planning permission.
4.8 As well as the centre of Lichfield, many of the villages in the District contain Conservation areas, reflecting their history and architectural quality. New development is expected to continue to take place within them and in some cases, particularly within Lichfield this could be quite significant in scale and potential impact.
4.9 The purpose of conservation policy within these Conservation Areas is to maintain their existing architectural and historic character where development takes place, and to take opportunities which may occur to enhance them. This requires that buildings are maintained in use and kept in good repair and that unsympathetic alterations which do not have regard to styles and materials of the locality are avoided. The policy sets out the criteria against which development proposals will be assessed. Alongside the need to consider the architecture of new buildings, it is also important that design must reflect the historic layout and grouping of existing buildings.
Policy C.3: Demolition
The District Council will seek to secure the retention, restoration, maintenance and continued use of buildings within Conservation Areas. The District Council will not grant consent for demolition of buildings which are of architectural or historic merit or which contribute positively to the character or appearance of the Conservation Area unless it can be demonstrated that the buildings are incapable of reasonably beneficial use through alteration or extensions for which the Council would normally grant permission and which would be consistent with the land use policies of this plan or unless Policy C.7 applies. The District Council will not grant consent for such demolition until planning permission has been granted for a replacement building and a contract for the redevelopment of the site has been let unless the condition of the building represents a danger to the public.
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4.10 Although some buildings within conservation areas may be listed, most buildings within conservation areas are unlikely to be listed but nevertheless together contribute to the attractive and historic character of such areas. As a general rule the Council will seek to retain existing buildings within Conservation areas, but there may be cases where demolition could, as a last resort be accepted. In such cases the Council will seek to avoid, through this policy, demolished sites remaining vacant for considerable periods of time.
4.11 Within Lichfield, a number of buildings have been identified which are out of scale or character with the Conservation Area and where a special policy will apply - See Policy C.7.
Policy C.4 has been deleted from the Plan.
Policy C.7: Buildings out of scale or character
The District Council will encourage the redevelopment or refurbishment of individual and groups of buildings which are out of character or scale within Conservation Areas subject to the achievement of a high standard of design and to meeting the Council's development control standards.
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4.16 Within Lichfield a few buildings have been identified as out of scale or character with the Conservation Area and these are shown on the Lichfield City Centre Inset. There may also be such buildings in other Conservation areas where Policy C.7 will apply as an exception to the normal policy of protecting buildings within Conservation Areas.
Policy C.9: Protected Open Spaces
The District Council will not permit development which would result in the loss of all or parts of open spaces and landscape features which contribute positively to the character of a village or Conservation Area, or which would adversely affect the setting of any open space which would diminish its value to the character of a village. The following protected open spaces are identified in the Plan:-
• land north of A513 (including Cricket Ground), Alrewas
• land north of Mill Stream, Alrewas
• land around St. Andrews Church, Clifton Campville
• land north of St. Mary's Church, Colton
• land south of Webbs Farm, Elford
• land at corner of A513/The Shrubberies, Elford
• land at Manor Park, Kings Bromley
• land adjacent to Little Aston Church, Little Aston
4.18 Some open spaces make a significant contribution to the character of villages and Conservation Areas. Such spaces merit preservation even where they lie within village boundaries. Examples of these are village greens, or the water meadows at Alrewas. Development of these would be detrimental to village character and will be resisted. Open spaces which are considered to make a positive contribution to the character of a village or Conservation Area are shown on the village Inset Plans. Within Lichfield open spaces are protected by policies for `framework' open space.