Agenda item

Proposed Local Areas of Special Character - Principles and Draft Criteria


Members received the Proposed Local Areas of Special Character – Principles and Draft Criteria Report.


The report proposed to introduce a new local heritage designation namely: “Local Areas of Special Character”.  This would be a non-statutory local designation relating to the historic and architectural interest and significance of an area.  It would supplement the national statutory designation of Conservation Areas.


Such a designation would assist in the assessment of the design quality of development proposals rather than changing whether the development was acceptable in principle or impacting upon permitted development rights.


The report was accompanied by a presentation.


For Harrow’s criteria relating to Conservation Areas, two or more must be met:


a)              Areas with a high concentration of Listed Buildings, whether statutorily or locally listed;

b)              Areas of historical, social, economic and/or architectural merit;

c)              Areas with a high proportion of buildings built prior to 1920, which remain largely unaltered;

d)              Areas built post 1920 that are innovative in planning or architectural detail, and where a large proportion remain unaltered;

e)              A significant group of buildings with distinct physical identity and cohesiveness;

f)                Areas which have a special quality, where the site layout and landscaping are of exceptionally high quality and/or contain historic open space, natural landmarks, topographical features or features of local distinctiveness.


These criteria set a high bar and many areas did not meet the required threshold to be designated as a Conservation Area.


At present Harrow did not have a local alternative to Conservation Area designation.  The report before the Panel outlined the rationale for proposing a local alternative (Local Areas of Special Character), the principles of such a designation and the following proposed criteria, which members were invited to comment on:


1)              The area must be of heritage significance; and 

2)              One or more of the following criteria need to be met:

a)      Townscape of locally cohesive, well-preserved quality;

b)      Architecture of locally cohesive, well-preserved quality; and

c)       Landscape of locally distinctive and well-preserved quality.


Overall, an area must have discernibly higher quality and degree of intactness than other parts of the Borough (other than designated conservation areas, that have special architectural or historic interest), thereby demonstrating distinctiveness.


In the discussion that ensued, Members made comments and asked the following questions:


§     How much work was expected to be done in a year?

§     There were lessons that could learned from other boroughs, and what documents would be required for designation?


In response, the Chair advised that the Administration was determined to get as much work as possible done within that timeframe, and that the programme would be resourced.  Furthermore, local documentation would be used for designation.


RESOLVED:  That Members:


(1)            note and comment on the proposal to introduce a new local heritage designation namely proposed “Local Areas of Special Character” and the proposed criteria (paragraph 4.10); and


(2)            endorse consultation with local conservation groups / stakeholders with regards to the proposed criteria (including any amendments arising from the Panel’s discussion) prior to the matter being reported back to the Panel for consideration and referral to Cabinet for approval.

Supporting documents: