Agenda item


Report of the Assistant Director (Planning).


Report of the Assistant Director (Planning) on the Lemsford Village Character Assessment.


Essex Place services have been commissioned as heritage consultants to carry out a review of the heritage assets in the borough, this is in line with national planning policy and guidance, which requires that Local planning authorities review their conservation areas from time to time and determine whether any parts should be designated as conservation areas.


Conservation Area designation introduces additional planning controls and considerations to protect an area's special character and appearance and the features that make it unique and distinctive. These can include the need for planning permission for some developments, demolition and tree works.Lemsford village is not currently designated as a conservation area, however there are a number of listed buildings within the area.


Place services have produced a draft character assessment which identifies areas of special architectural or historic interest within the Lemsford area, and this assessment has been carried out in accordance with best practice guidance from historic England.

The report includes a discussion on the suitability of conservation area designation, as well as the suggested conservation area boundary.


It is now proposed that the draft character assessment undergoes a six-week consultation, this is to gain public opinion on whether the area should be designated and whether the suggested boundary is appropriate. Consultation will increase the weight attached to the character assessments, as it will allow for community and stakeholder views to be considered and any necessary revisions made prior to adoption of the statement.


The consultation will take place online using the council's consultation portal, and notification letters will be issued to key stakeholders and residents, this is all as set out in the Statement of Community Involvement.


It is intended to send notification letters to residents within the wider Lemsford area, as well as within the proposed conservation area boundary following the consultation. The results will be presented to Council prior to the adoption of the documents and any decision on designation being made. Should it be decided to designate Lemsford as a conservation area, the necessary statutory processes for designation would then be followed.


In summary, officers recommended the draft character assessment is approved and goes ahead to consultation.


The following points were raised and discussed:


  • Concern raised by members that Lemsford being designated a conservation area prevents residents, for example, upgrading their windows, getting solar panels etc. Officers said that some permitted development rights works will still apply within the conservation area, but in some cases, because it's a conservation area, there may be further restrictions, say, for example, you may be able to put on solar panels, but you may be restricted to where you can put these. In that case they would need to apply for planning permission for that kind of development, but it would depend on what they are trying to do. Permitted development rights fall under national legislation and apply to every conservation area.
  • Concern raised that parking can be problematic and whether being a conservation area would make this any different. Officers said if highlighted as a particular threat in the adopted Character Assessment, parking would be one consideration to be balanced against other material considerations such as amenity, highway safety etc when determining planning applications.
  • A comment was made that Mill Close should potentially be included in the conservation area. During consultation officers can gauge opinion on whether people would like it designated and also the extent of the boundary.
  • Officers clarified that the next steps would be to undertake the consultation and as a result of that, make a recommendation as to whether or not to go ahead with the conservation area designation. This would also include any changes that need to be made to the document and the potential boundary. Officers would then bring it back to councillors to make that final decision on designation, which is likely to be the first meeting after the pre-election period.
  • Officers clarified that Place Services, using the Oxford Methodology, are commissioned to look at the whole borough and to undertake a high-level overview of all our heritage assets. As a result of that, some areas may be considered to warrant further assessment. So it may be that further areas come forward as needing a character assessment.
  • Concern raised about speeding, and if there was any scope to get Hertfordshire County Council to look at a reduced speed limit through the village. Officers said that the character assessment mainly deals with the architectural and historic character of the area, so speed limits would sit outside the scope of this.
  • Members asked if the six-week consultation could fall outside of the school holidays as a number of people are away during this period. Officers said that they are intending to proceed quickly with consultation should it get approval, so it likely to be before the school holidays. In terms of the methods of consultation, there will be a notification letter to everybody within the Lemsford area, it will be done in line with the Statement of Community Involvement, and there would be online press adverts.
  • Members asked which area letters would be sent. Officers said they are intending to send letters to the wider Lemsford area, which includes the Great North Road. There will also be letters and/or e-mails going out to statutory consultees and any interested groups in the area.



(13 voting FOR - UNANIMOUS)


(1)   That the Cabinet Planning and Parking Panel (CPPP) recommend to Cabinet that the Draft Lemsford Character Assessment undergo public consultation for a period of six weeks, with the view to designate Lemsford as a conservation area.


(2)   As approval by the Panel was unanimous, the character assessment can be approved by way of Executive Member Decision Notice.


Supporting documents: