Posted 2nd Oct 2017
Historic England talk us through three Conservation Area case studies
Stamford was one of the original five boroughs of the Danelaw, in the ninth century, an area of Anglo Saxon Britain which was presided over by the Danish. The town prospered in medieval times, but it was during the 18th century that it truly took off, as it became a fashionable staging post on the Great North Road, linking London and Edinburgh.
In the 1960s, local planner, Kenneth Fennell of Kesteven County Council, was aware of the growing pressures on historic towns from traffic and development. Fearing the protection of listed buildings alone would not safeguard the integrity and character of the townscape, he and his team carried out what would be known as a 'townscape character assessment'. He then asked his councillors to set up a policy that would protect the character of the five distinct areas of the town.
It was around this time that the Ministry of Housing and Local Government planned to undertake four pilot studies, in Bath, York, Chichester and King's Lynn. However, thanks to Fennell's preparatory work, it was Stamford that became the first Conservation Area in England.
Tower Gardens, Tottenham, London
The Tower Gardens Estate in Tottenham, one of the first 'garden suburbs' in the world, is home to some of Britain's most renowned council housing. This proved to be a rare sight within the largely Victorian historic fabric of London.
At the turn of the century, Tottenham was a village suburb which was served by new railways and at the end of the tramlines. After the introduction of the 1890 Housing of the Working Classes Act, which - for the first time - gave powers to councils to build housing for working people, the newly formed London County Council (LCC) took action.
Aided by a donation from Samuel Montagu, of the silversmith and watchmaking family, some of the surrounding fields were purchased, and construction started. The LLC was keen to provide quality social housing, hired progressive architects from within the Arts and Crafts Movement, and as art of the plans Montagu wanted Jewish workers living in Tower Hamlets to be rehoused and public gardens for residents to enjoy.
The development, and other similar ones conducted by the LCC, helped to place Britain at the cutting edge of planned social housing, which offered improved conditions for people. The 954 housing units on Tower Gardens made it the largest development undertaken by the LCC between 1898 and 1914.
Sheffield City Centre, Yorkshire
Designated on 19th August 1996, the City Centre Conservation Area covers approximately 0.3 sq km, and is a combination of the original Town Hall Conservation Area and Cathedral Conservation Area. Containing a high concentration of listed - mainly Victorian - buildings which reflect Sheffield's commercial growth in the 19th century, it's also home to inter-war buildings which include the Grade II listed City Hall and the Grade II Central Library, built in the late 1920s and 1930s. The Conservation Area included public spaces, such as the Peace Gardens, which were first laid out in 1938 after the demolition of St Paul's Church. Originally named St Paul's Gardens, it's believed that they soon get nicknamed the Peace Gardens after the World War II Munich Agreement, which was signed at a similar time. While the Gardens were originally going to be replaced by an extension to the Town Hall, this was never built as a result of World War II.
In 1985, the area was renamed the 'Peace Gardens', and has since undergone a number of makeovers, making it a contemporary space in an historic setting.
Text, information and imagery courtesy of Historic England