On Friday 16th November, Councillor Kirkman and I met with Mr Peter Howard, who is the architect commissioned by Loughton Parish Council to carry out the review of the Loughton Conservation Area statement.
Government guidelines are (or were prior to the current government) that these statements must be reviewed at least every 5 years, to ensure their relevance and effectiveness. The Loughton Conservation Area statement was written in 1977 and has never been reviewed. I find it quite shocking that Loughton Parish Council and Milton Keynes Council has failed to consider this in 35 years. It is arguable that as a result there has been inappropriate development within the Conservation Area and some of the unique character of it has been destroyed. I am pleased that Loughton Parish Council has now decided to commission Mr Howard to carry out its own review of the Conservation Area statement with a view to it being adopted by Milton Keynes Council as the planning authority.
The aim of a Conservation Area is to protect the unique character and appearance of an area and the statement identifies and describes those features of special interest which contribute to local character
We reviewed together the first draft of the reviewed statement – which now consists of approx 15 pages of A4. It covers the general context in terms of location, being within a new town, the topography, geology, historical development and planning framework. The character statement deals with routes and places, buildings, materials and building form, landscape and trees. The management proposals deal with planning guidance, demolitions, new development, change of use, alterations to buildings, Article 4(2) direction, repair and maintenance, buildings at risk, the street scene and trees.
Mr Howard has reviewed the boundaries of the existing area and considers that there are 3 areas which would benefit from inclusion in the conservation area :-
- the linear park and paddock between Lucy Lane and Little Loughton Manor – because it contributes to the setting of Little Loughton Manor and Fuller’s Barn
- Buildings and land between Leys Road and Whitworth Lane
- Loughton Manor Equestrian Centre including its buildings and land
Mr Howard also considers that it would be appropriate for Milton Keynes Council to introduce additional controls by issuing an article 4(2) direction under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995. This order allows small-scale extensions and/or alterations without planning permission – but where these rights are unchecked, they can erode the special interest of the Conservation Area
The next stage is for Mr Howard to consult with MK Council on the work so far and then to add in photographs and plans illustrating the review. Then we will meet again to discuss it further and to plan the public consultation stage. This is likely to involve delivering copies to all properties in the Conservation Area and notifying all residents of Loughton about the proposals.
I think it is probably best not to publish the draft as yet. However if anyone is very interested to see a copy they can always approach me direct and I would be happy to assist