Monday, May 27, 2024

Criticism of Newbury conservation plan

Conservation plans for Newbury town centre have been described as “full of holes”.

The town council has criticised West Berkshire’s conservation area management plan, and says there is “serious concern” that the council has failed to involve or discuss the preparation of the draft document with any local experts.

Newbury Town Council says neither it, the Newbury Society, nor the Newbury District Field Club, were consulted.

“As a consequence of this, the draft document contains many inaccuracies and mistakes which could have been easily picked up with local assistance and involvement,” it said.

It was pointed out that this is the approach recommended by Historic England, which encourages planning authorities preparing conservation area appraisals to consult and involve local communities, parish councils and other relevant local bodies.

Concern was expressed that, given the boundaries shown in the map between the adjacent Kennet and Avon Canal conservation areas and the Newbury town centre conservation area, this would effectively remove sensitive areas from the Newbury town centre conservation area, without acknowledgement or consultation. 

The areas removed would include Newbury Lock, West Mills (road and mills site), and West Berkshire Museum. 

These would then be without conservation area protections until the two Kennet and Avon Canal conservation area boundaries could be redrawn to match those shown on the map (ie: for an open-ended period).

It was pointed out by the town council that seven canal conservation areas were created along the canal across West Berkshire in 1983, and suggested that the two adjoining Newbury be known as Kennet and Avon Canal (Newbury East) and Kennet and Avon Canal (Newbury West). 

These are the existing names. Also the town council noted that in several places the draft plan, has east and west the wrong way around.

The Town Council Heritage Working Group also expressed serious concerns at failures regarding listed buildings. 

It says the total of listed buildings is wrong and some important ones are omitted.

At a minimum, it says there should be a list of the two Grade I listed buildings and the 17 Grade II listed buildings within the conservation area.

The working group supported the recommendations for local listing of six additional buildings:

79 Bartholomew Street

The Nags Head

44 Cheap street

Methodist Chapel (Hampton Road) 

The Cross Keys

The Salvation Army Hall.

The working group also recommends the addition of St John’s Vicarage.