Draft Old Harlow Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan
4.0 Old Harlow conservation area can be broadly divided into seven different character areas. These character areas are indicative and their purpose is to identify general characteristics in terms of built form, layout, land uses and the historic and architectural features present.
4.1 The approach of the character appraisal has been tailored to fulfil the new requirements of national policy set out in PPS5: Planning for the Historic Environment (2010). PPS5 introduces two important terms for managing the historic environment: ‘heritage assets’ and ‘significance.’
4.2 The thrust of the new national policy is that heritage assets should be conserved according to their significance. Significance is the overall value of a heritage asset to this and future generations because of its historic, architectural, archaeological or artistic interest.
4.3 Establishing the significance of heritage assets is an important aspect of heritage planning as it is the significance of a heritage asset that justifies a degree of protection or recognition in planning decisions. By highlighting the significant features present in each character area in detail through the appraisal, the Council can ensure that these characteristics are given the weight and significance they deserve when planning applications and appeals are being considered in the conservation area.
4.4 The intention is for this appraisal to be a useful manual to assist the Council make robust planning decisions in the area. It should also be referred to by home owners and applicants when preparing development proposals.
PARK HILL CHARACTER AREA
4.5 Park Hill contains a collection of Victorian and Edwardian homes and is found to the far west of the conservation area. It is home to attractive, well-preserved early Edwardian terraces as well as a number of large Victorian detached and semi-detached homes of significant townscape merit. More modern infill development has taken place in Penshurst and on the corner of Mulberry Terrace and Park Hill.
4.6 The area is predominantly two-storey in character. A degree of variation exists in the size and massing of buildings, with comparatively larger detached and semi-detached homes facing rows of terraced housing built at a higher density.
4a.) Edwardian Terraces
4.7 Lines of homogeneous terraced homes, built in the Edwardian period and laid out in a linear fashion are a defining feature of the Park Hill character area. They provide an enclosed character to the street and generate attractive views. Terraces are very well-preserved and contain a number of original, unifying architectural features such as windows, fences, brickwork and doors. The character of Park Hill is derived from the ‘group value’ of these terraced homes. ‘Group value’ is where a collection of homes have more significance collectively than they would do individually.
4b.) Bargeboards on Oddfellow’s Terrace
4.8 One of the most distinctive architectural features in Park Hill are the tiled and gabled bargeboards found over the ground floor windows on Oddfellow’s Terrace (6 to 16 Park Hill). These are an attractive feature and frame windows running along the ground floor of the terrace.
4c.) Victorian detached and semi-detached homes of significant townscape merit
4.9 There are a number of large Victorian homes which are of important townscape significance. Buildings of a particular historic and architectural interest are the listed buildings at number 7 and 9 Park Hill. 7 Park Hill is of a more sizeable massing than surrounding properties and has a landmark status at the intersection of Park Hill and Mulberry Terrace.
4d.) Consistent Rooflines
4.10 Roofs in the character area are mostly hipped and made of natural slate. In the western side there are a number of gable-fronted properties. Consistent roof lines along terraces are an important element of the area’s character and they generate a visually pleasing sense of regularity and rhythm.
4e.) Well-defined front garden boundaries
4.11 The majority of homes in the area have well-defined front garden boundaries. These are typically demarcated by wrought iron fences and gates, although some examples of wooden and brick walls exist. A particularly strong example of a defined frontage can be found at 9 Park Hill. Well-defined front garden boundaries play a critical role in defining the structure and visual symmetry of the street. They also provide a visual transition between the public highway and the private domestic areas of homes.
4f.) Consistent Building Materials
4.12 Consistent brick types are an important aspect of the character of Park Hill. Most homes in the character area are built with Flemish bond brickwork, although 28-34 Park Hill has been constructed with a darker red brick colour. The modern hall at the corner of Park Hill and Mulberry Terrace is of an unsympathetic red brick colour and contrasts unfavourably with the pallete of surrounding buildings.
4g.) Decorative brickwork details
4.13 Important townscape features are decorative brickwork details found above windows and doors such as gauged brick lintels. The façade of Oddfellow’s Terrace contains an engraved First World War memorial which is of particular local significance.
4h.) Original Doors
4.14 The majority of homes have retained their original doors or have replacement doors which follow the same style. Typically, doors in the character area are simple windowless 4 panel Victorian and Edwardian doors. Doors on Oddfellow’s Terrace are blue and are a particularly distinctive feature of the area. It is important that replacement doors conform to the prevailing styles found in the area.
4i.) Traditional sash and casement windows frames
4.15 The majority of Victorian and Edwardian homes have traditional sash window frames with white painted sills. Terraces have traditional 4 pane sliding sash windows. West House at number 7 Park Hill contains 12 pane Georgian sash windows. A number of properties have original casement windows, although a some properties display uPVC replacement windows in the same style.
4.16 Sash windows are important unifying features in the area and help to maintain the original character of the area and the ‘group value’. Decorative brick work details above windows are also important features.
4j.) Chimney stacks and pots
4.17 The majority of homes in the character have retained original chimney pots. Particularly prominent are the tall chimney stacks and engraved rectangular clay chimney pots on numbers 7, 9, 15 and 19 Park Hill.
4.18 On rows of tightly packed Edwardian terraces, straight beaded terracotta chimney pots are found on evenly spaced stacks. Chimney stacks and pots play an important visual role by punctuating views along rooflines at regular intervals. By doing this, chimneys provide critical definition and rhythm to the roofscape.
4k.) Views along terraces
4.19 Views along terraces are an important aspect of the area’s visual character. Views are characterised by the repetitive visual presence of a number of homogeneous architectural features which provide a strong vertical and horizontal emphasis. These features help to draw the eye along terraces and provide a pleasing composition.
4.20 The visual symmetry present is dependent upon the preservation of all of the following architectural features:
- consistent roof lines
- consistent front boundary walls and fences
- chimney stacks and chimney pots at regular intervals;
- sash windows and painted sills;
- decorative brickwork details above windows and doors; and
- bargeboards (in the case of Oddfellow’s Terrace).
4.21 The character area is generally well-preserved. In comparison with other parts of the conservation area, few homes have had significant negative alterations. The majority of homes have retained traditional features such as doors, window frames, front boundary fences and there are currently few examples of the use of PVC window frames and doors or porch extensions.
4.22 However, the character of the area is particularly susceptible to damage as a result of front porch extensions, the removal of front boundary walls and the unsympathetic replacement of traditional sash windows.
4.23 Current issues:
- Satellite dishes are a particular problem on terraced homes at 1-6 Mulberry Terrace and Oddfellow’s Terrace, 6-16 Park Hill.
- A number of lamp posts are in need of painting or replacement.
- Wheelie bins are a discordant feature along Oddfellow’s Terrace
MARKET STREET CHARACTER AREA
5.0 Market Street character area is home to some of the oldest buildings in Old Harlow. It contains a rich variety of buildings dating back to the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th century, in addition to Victorian homes and some more recent 20th century development. The area includes a number of attractive public houses, churches and 17 listed buildings.
5.1 A principal feature of Market Street is its village character. This is derived from the tight-knit, historic layout which is a legacy of its origins as a late medieval Market Town.
5a.) Medieval Street Pattern
5.3 The medieval street pattern and later market infill development is evident around Market Street, Fore Street and St John’s Walk. Parking areas in the centre of the character area are located where buildings once stood. These buildings closed off Market Street from Fore Street and created a tight-knit system of narrow streets. Homes and businesses were separated by narrow alley ways, similar to those which can be found to the rear of The Crown and around Fore Street.
5.4 The street pattern is of significant historic interest as it is evidence of the late medieval origins of the town and demonstrates its organic growth over the centuries. It has also resulted in a series of quaint and intimate pedestrian friendly spaces which are an important aspect of the area’s character.
5b.) Consistent, historic building lines with buildings fronting onto the pavement.
5.5 The historic street pattern has resulted in consistent building lines with buildings fronting straight onto the pavement. This is a legacy of the former commercial function of Market Street as, historically, people lived above shops, public houses and other commercial uses. Infill development during the 19th and 20th century has broadly respected the historic street pattern and this element of the area’s character has been maintained.
5.6 Building lines are highly significant as they:
- create attractive views along Market Street in both directions;
- provide evidence of Market Street’s historic function as a market place;
- create a sense of enclosure;
- provide a close-knit, village character; and
- generate a series of well-enclosed public spaces.
5.7 Regrettably, the sense of enclosure has been diminished with the demolition of Middle Row. Where Middle Row once stood, car parking areas are now found, creating unattractive concrete spaces in the historic central area.
5c.) Sweeping views along Market Street in both directions
5.8 Attractive linear views in both directions along Market Street are an attractive aspect of the historic and visual character of the area. Important elements of the views are:
- a slight change in gradient as the topography of Market Street slopes slightly towards Park Hill;
- buildings of a consistent scale, massing and height;
- buildings built adjacent to the pavement edge with entrances fronting onto the highway;
- a generally consistent roof line consisting of mostly tiled, hipped roofs punctured by the gable roof elevation at The Crown public house; and
- a variety of white and pastel coloured homes
5.9 Relatively recent development at 1-9 Dellfield Court has failed to conform to the above mentioned criteria. This is because it is taller and bulkier than surrounding buildings. It also fails to provide entrances fronting onto Market Street and does not blend with surrounding buildings in terms of building and roof materials.
5.10 Facing west, the hall at the corner of Park Hill and Mulberry Terrace is located at the end of the view along Market Street. However, the design and quality of this building fails to establish a significant landmark which its location requires. These buildings have therefore had a negative impact on the townscape quality and the views in the area.
5d.) The minimal impact of vehicular traffic and congestion
5.11 Market Street has a limited potential for through traffic (east-west) and this has helped to preserve its tranquil village character. As a result, Market Street has not experienced the same issues with through traffic as was originally experienced along the High Street prior to its pedestrianisation. Traffic on Market street is mostly local and moves relatively slowly, allowing pedestrians to cross the street easily. Fore Street contains a series of intimate, pedestrian friendly spaces. This pedestrian-friendly character ensures that, generally, the area can be enjoyed as it would have been historically.
5e.) Trees and green spaces
5.12 Car parks are located in the central areas between Market Street and Fore Street. Trees located on the edges of these car parking areas do to some extent help to reduce the visual impact of large areas of concrete and parked cars on the historic character of the area. However, these areas still remain rather inaccessible and unattractive here is therefore significant scope for public realm enhancements in these areas.
5.13 The Churchyard around St John the Baptist Church on St John’s Walk , (now the Arts and Recreation Centre, ARC) also provides a peaceful area of green space. Although there are only a few areas of trees and greenery in the character area, where they are present, they make a significant contribution to the character of the area and the attractiveness of the public realm.
5f.) Traditional building materials
5.14 Buildings dating back to the 15th, 16th and 17th century provide a good example of traditional building techniques and materials and are of significant historic and architectural interest. A number of buildings have traditional peg and pan tiled roofs, as are properties with traditional timber frames and wooden rendered facades. Pargeting on The Chequers public house is also of significant interest.
5g.) Listed Churches
5.15 The character area contains two grade II listed churches - St John’s Arts and Recreation Centre (1839) [formerly The Church of St John the Baptist] on St John’s Walk and Harlow Baptist Church off Fore Street. Though these buildings are not on Market Street, they play a important role in defining the character of the area.
5.16 Harlow Baptist Church was built in the mid 19th century in a Romanesque style. It is set back around 30 metres back from Fore Street along a long path. Views of Harlow Baptist Church are a surprising and pleasant feature of the character area and can be found between the Church Hall and 25 Fore Street.
5.17 The Victorian Church of St John the Baptist—now the Arts and Recreation Centre (ARC) - is built in a gothic style with battlemented tower. It is surrounded by attractive church gardens and plays an important role in establishing character of the back streets behind Market Street.
5h.) Listed public houses and restaurants dating back to the 15th century
5.18 The Gables (Grade II* Listed), The Marquis of Granby, The George and The Crown public houses (Grade II Listed) are public houses dating back to the 15th century. They are a legacy of the historic function of the area as an important stopping-off point for horse drawn coaches along the old London Road. Inns were established to provide accommodation for travellers passing through the area or staying overnight. The Chequers public house (Grade II Listed) was also established in the late 18th century.
5.19 These listed public houses play an important role by:
- establishing important visual landmarks;
- reflecting the historic character of the area; and
- establishing the present character of the area in terms of land uses and activity.
5.20 These buildings have a high degree of meaning and historical interest and are significant heritage assets.
5i.) Victorian Terraced Houses
5.21 Development during the early Victorian era co-exists sympathetically with the original Market Town buildings in terms of scale and massing. Particularly attractive examples are:
- Number 23 to 25 Fore Street (Grade II Listed);
- 54 to 58 Market Street (Grade II Listed);
- 17 Fore Street; and
- 16 to 32 Market Street.
5.22 The properties between 16-32 are not as well-preserved and have been subject to a number of unsympathetic alterations, particularly front porch extensions.
5j) Coloured building facades
5.23 A number of properties along Market Street are painted either white or in pastel colours and this is a distinctive feature character of the Street. White painted landmark buildings at the junction with Station Road, such as The Gables, The George, Chequers and number 2 London Road provide a colourful entrance to Market Street. A range of pastel coloured buildings are an important visual characteristic of views along it. The blue shop façade at 52 Market Street - now a lettings agent - also provides an attractive visual element to the street. However, this is undermined by the unsympathetic advertising hoarding found above the facia.
- Street clutter is a particular issue around The George and The Gables where unnecessarily large volumes of highway signage, bollards and railings negatively affect the visual setting of listed buildings. These objects are also a potential inconvenience to pedestrians and result in a visually cluttered area.
- Large areas dominated by concrete and parked cars are located in central areas along Market Street and Fore Street. These areas are unfriendly to pedestrians and reduce the attractiveness of the public realm and surrounding buildings.
- Front porch and side extensions on terraced homes fronting directly onto the highway on Market Street and Fore Street are bulky and discordant features in the conservation area. This form of development is evident between 16 and 24 Market Street and at number 5 Fore Street. Front porches in such circumstances erode the linear character of the area as they interrupt the consistent building line that is a critical component of views along Market Street. This diminishes the sense of continuity and rhythm which are essential visual characteristics of Victorian terraced houses.
- Unsympathetic PVC replacement doors and windows
- Many listed buildings are in need of general maintenance and painting, particularly The George Hotel, The Gables and The Old Bank House at 2 London Road, all of which have significant landmark functions.
- Maintenance is required to paving, particularly along Fore Street where much of the pebbled paving is cracked and in need of repair.
- The design quality of new development - modern infill at Dellfield Court and Equity House does not have the same character as that of the conservation area and contrasts unfavourably with older buildings in the conservation area in terms of height, massing, material or architectural style.
HIGH STREET CHARACTER AREA
6.0 As a designated neighbourhood centre, Old Harlow High Street has a more commercial character than the rest of the conservation area. It is the central focus of commercial and community life in Old Harlow.
6.1 The High Street essentially has two distinct characters. The western end of the High Street contains the more historic buildings dating back to the 17th and 18th century. The eastern side of the High Street has a New Town character and contains blocks designed by Harlow’s master planner, Sir Frederick Gibberd.
6.2 Despite large scale re-development of this area between 1958 and 1970 the high street has retained its village High Street character. Key features of the high street’s character are:
- A range of small and medium sized commercial units;
- A mix of different land uses such as shops, cafes, restaurants and financial and professional services;
- A range of colourful and attractive facades and shop fronts;
- A slightly sloping topography;
- An enclosed and intimate character; and
- Pedestrianised paving along the high street.
6a.) Shop front facades
6.4 Attractive shop facades are a key element of the character of the high street. A number of premises exhibit original shop front facades with original materials which are of significant historical and architectural interest. Particularly attractive examples are the bakers at E. Dorrington and the florist at 36 High Street.
6.5 Retail facades under the New Town infill development during the 1960s have respected the basic principles underpinning the design of shop fronts along the street in terms of window design, size and materials. The frontage of the Co-operative store has also been sympathetically designed and integrates with the character of the High Street.
6.6 However, there are a number of modern shop and restaurant frontages which have rather bulky designs and make use of metallic and plastic materials and garish or overly bright colours. These are discordant features within the conservation area.
6b.) Small commercial units
6.7 Historically the High Street has been home to small shops and local businesses. Typically, commercial units were found at the ground floor of homes with people living above shops. This helped to generate the dense and tight-knit character of the high street which has, to a large extent, been retained. This character is currently maintained by the presence of a number of small retail and business units along the high street such as a florist, beauticians, baker, charity shop, newsagent and café.
6.8 The Co-operative is the largest retail unit and functions as an anchor store. Despite its internal size it has been sympathetically designed to fit in with the scale and character of the High Street.
6.9 It is desirable to maintain this element of the High Street’s character by resisting the merger of adjacent shop units or the introduction of businesses of a size out of proportion with the prevailing character of the street.
5c.) A mix of different land uses such as shops, cafes, restaurants and financial and professional services
6.10 Having a well-balanced range of shops, cafes, restaurants and financial and professional services to meet people’s daily needs is critical to sustaining the social, economic and historic character of the area. However, at present there are proportionally too many financial and professional service uses in the area and this has a rather dominating effect on the area’s character.
6.11 Although the current arrangement of uses on the High Street marginally meets the retail requirements set out in the Local Plan (Policy RTCS15), the Council’s Retail Study and Town Centre Health Check of 2007 showed that 49 percent of the gross floor space in Old Harlow is dedicated to service uses.
6.12 It is clear that there needs to be a greater consideration of the impact of so many outlets serving the same function in the conservation area in terms of character, vitality and footfall.
5d.) The Gibberd Blocks
6.13 Built by Harlow Development Corporation by 1970 and designed by Frederick Gibberd and Partners, the New Town era buildings at the eastern side of the High Street are an integral feature of the area’s character and are of significant architectural and historic interest.
6.14 The Blocks mark an important period the history of Old Harlow and demonstrate how it was gradually enveloped and grown by the New Town. The Gibberd Blocks are at the epicentre of this change, marking the juxtaposition of Old Harlow with New Town Harlow.
6.15 Blocks at the eastern end of the High Street have a landmark status. Viewed facing down east they terminate the shopping parade; viewed west from the bottom of the hill they provide an important entrance to the High Street.
6.16 However, the blocks are badly maintained and do not currently provide the most attractive entrance to the High Street. At ground floor level, dark recesses under the pillared jetties fail to make spaces inviting for pedestrians. Residential uses on the ground floor at the eastern end of the High Street result in dead frontages which is out of character with the active and commercial character of the rest of the High Street. Restoration work involving repainting and general maintenance is urgently required to restore the Blocks and ensure that they fulfil their important townscape function.
5e.) Consistent building lines
6.17 Consistent building lines, with commercial properties fronting straight onto the pedestrianised High Street, are important as they help to generate its enclosed and intimate character.
6.18 New Town infill development has broadly respected the building lines present in the area and helped to plug some of the gaps in the High Street and prevent space ‘leaking’ and undermining its intimate and enclosed character. However, jettied recesses on New Town blocks set the retail facades back a metre and marginally diminish the sense of enclosure. Additional gaps in the building line allow alleyways to link the High Street to parking areas to the rear.
5f.) Views up and down the High Street
6.19 The High Street slopes down gently from Station Road towards the New Town bocks at the eastern entrance. This topography creates pleasant views in both directions.
6.20 Important features of the views are the way they are framed by buildings at either entrance. At the western entrance to the High Street large volumes of street clutter spoil the view. At the eastern entrance the New Town blocks provide a rather dilapidated appearance. There is therefore significant scope to improve both gateways into the High Street.
5g.) Street furniture
6.21 Other important and distinctive elements on the High Street are statues, bicycle stands and heritage street lamps.
- A number of modern shop and restaurant frontages have rather bulky designs and make use of metallic and plastic materials and garish or overly bright colours. These designs diminish the historic character of the area.
- There are proportionally too many A2 financial and professional service uses on the High Street. This reduces the range of shops and services available to meet people’s every day needs and diminishes the retail offer of the High Street in comparison to other retail centres. The result is that there are too many commercial outlets providing the same function on the High Street.
- Maintenance of Gibberd Blocks, which are dilapidated and in need of restoration.
- Street clutter and advertisement hoardings
- Flues on roofs
- External air-conditioning units on shops and restaurants
BURY ROAD AND NEW ROAD CHARACTER AREA
7.0 The Bury Road and New Road character area contains the largest stock of late-Victorian and Edwardian housing in the conservation area. It consists of rows of highly attractive terraced and semidetached homes which are of significant group value. The area around the Garden of Remembrance also contains a number of large detached Victorian homes and some more modern New Town bungalows.
7a.) Late-Victorian and Edwardian terraced and semi-detached homes
7.1 Rows of similarly designed Victorian terraces and semi-detached houses are a dominant feature of the character area. These buildings provide the main skeleton upon which the character area’s overall character and compact structure rests.
7b.) Building heights and rooflines and chimney pots
7.2 The character area is consistently two-storey. Number 77 and 79 Bury Road rise to three storeys. However, this is an exception. Rooflines along terraces on Bury Road and New Road are typically hipped whilst larger Victorian and Edwardian homes have gable roof lines of hipped roofs are punctuated by more prominent gable elevations with painted bargeboards. Well-preserved sets of chimney pots at regular intervals also create a pleasing sense of continuity and rhythm.
7c.) Consistent building lines
7.3 Streets in the area have been laid out in linear form with homes generally arranged along consistent building lines. This provides a strong frontage and a good sense of enclosure in most areas. However, many homes built after the late-Victorian and Edwardian era do not conform to the established building line and have instead been set back a significant distance. This has had a negative impact on the level of enclosure experienced along the street.
7.4 On New Road, the development at Cowlins has been arranged in the form of a cul de sac and effectively turn it back on the Victorian homes on the north side of New Road. By turning inwards, the development at Cowlins has missed the opportunity to mirror these properties and create a well-enclosed street.
7d.) Well-defined front garden boundaries
7.5 Front garden boundaries are well-defined on Bury Road and New Road. This is an important and original design feature of homes in the area. Where front garden boundaries are present, they are strong visual elements in the street and play a critical role in defining the area’s linear and highly structured character.
7.6 Front gardens are demarcated by a range of methods in the character area. Wrought iron fences are an effective and unifying feature on some terraced rows. Wooden fences and brick walls exist on other terraces.
7.7 Between 73a and 95 High Street front garden boundaries have been removed to cater for vehicle driveways. These changes have gradually eroded the symmetry and structure of the street. Properties are left looking open and exposed and dominated by vehicle parking. This was not the original design intention.
7e.) Sash Windows
7.8 Victorian homes in the area contain well-preserved sliding sash windows. Where they are present they play a key role in defining the original character of the street. As shared and unifying features they also make a significant contribution to the ‘group value’ present in the area.
7.9 Where sash windows have been replaced by uPVC windows or aluminium frames single pane windows, this has had a negative impact on the character of the area by introducing modern and discordant elements which reduce the degree of architectural unity.
7f.) Decorative brick work details
7.10 Most Victorian and Edwardian homes in the area are adorned with some degree of decorative brick work details. These normally take the form of lintels made in a different coloured brick above the windows and doors. Some buildings and sets of terraces exhibit linear features of different coloured bricks along the entire façade length above the ground floor. Decorative plastering above windows and doors are also attractive elements.
7g.) Painted window frames and doorway fenestration
7.11 A number of Victorian and Edwardian homes have painted window frames and sills which add colour and variety to the area and should be encouraged, providing appropriate colours are used which fit in with the character of the area. Painted window shutters are also attractive features in the area.
7.12 Original wooden Victorian and Edwardian doors are attractive features worthy of preservation. Typically, original doors feature two long rectangular single pane windows either side of a central knocker. In some instances original doors feature rectangular wooden panels rather than windows. Other doors feature decorated stain glass window panes.
7.13 Other significant features on doorways are original features such as letter boxes, knockers and door knobs. A number of homes on New Road also have distinctive porches with interior tiles as well as tiled front garden paths.
7.14 uPVC replacement doors are an unsympathetic and discordant feature in the conservation area and should be resisted. A number of replacement doors in the area have segmental arches. Normally this feature is found above doors on Georgian homes and is not an original feature of doors in the area, which have rectangular dimensions.
7i.) Kimberly Terrace
7.15 Kimberly Terrace houses an identical set of distinctive and well-preserved Victorian dwellings. These share a number of similarities with Oddfellow’s Terrace on Park Hill. Of particular architectural interest are the series of gabled bays on the ground floor which are decorated with white bargeboards.
7.16 The degree of architectural unity present along Kimberly Terrace means that it is of significant ‘group value’ in the conservation area. However, this ‘group value’ is dependent on the preservation of a number of important, unifying architectural features. These include:
- Gabled bays on the ground floor with decorated bargeboards;
- Chimney pots;
- Original doors;
- Sash windows;
- Consistent brickwork materials and detailing; and
- Consistent front garden railings.
7.17 The inclusion of a number of identical features at regular intervals along the terrace helps to draw the eye down the street and creates highly attractive views.
7.18 In general, these unifying features have been well-preserved. However, there is one example of a gabled bay being extended on the terrace. This has had a negative impact on the level of homogeneity present on the terrace and has diminished the degree of visual symmetry and regularity present. Changes of this kind should be resisted as they would cumulatively erode the overall ‘group value’ of the terrace and the strong visual presence.
7j.) Large Victorian and Edwardian homes
7.19 Within the character area there are a number of large homes on comparatively larger plots which were built between 1890 and 1910. In terms of size and architectural style these homes share a number of similarities with those built along Watlington Road during the same period.
7.20 On Bury Road and New Road these homes are an integral feature of the character of the area. Grand looking, gable fronted, detached homes help to add a degree of variety by breaking up the predominantly terraced character of the street. Unfortunately a number of homes have built rather large front and side extensions and garages which do not always co-exist sympathetically with the original homes.
7j.) The Garden of Remembrance
7.19 The Garden of Remembrance is the most prominent and attractive green space in the entire conservation area. It forms a rectangular strip of greenery north of the High Street, scattered with a variety of large trees and smaller bushes. It provides a shaded space for recreation and rest. Bungalows to the west front straight onto the space and provide natural surveillance and a good sense of enclosure. The area could be enhanced by having more benches to sit on.
7k.) Victoria Hall
7.20 Built in 1888, Victoria Hall provides a fine example of late Victorian Gothic architecture. It has a land mark function on the corner of Bury Road and relates well to the open space at The Garden of Remembrance. It has also played an important historical role in Harlow being the site for a number of important public meetings in leading up to the designation of Harlow New Town and a number of speeches by Winston Churchill, then a local MP. Because of the historic and architectural significance of Victoria Hall it should be locally listed.
7.21 There are two very well-preserved examples of Pargeting in the character area at Chestnut Cottage (71 High Street) and at 37 and 39 Bury Road. Pargeting is the decorative plastering of the external walls of buildings. It is a traditional building method in Essex, East Anglia and Kent. Examples of pargeting are present in the conservation area are worthy of preservation. This is particularly important on unlisted buildings.
7m.) Views of 73 to 91 High Street and of Victoria Hall
7.22 Important views in the character area are available from outside Marigolds towards Victoria Hall and down the curve of the High Street. Views down 73 to 91 High Street follow the curve of the High Street and terminate at the former Malting House and 1 New Road. Much of this route remains as it did in the 19th century, although a thatched cottage which sat next Chestnut Cottage was unfortunately demolished.
- Porch extensions, particularly on terraced homes along Bury Road and New Road
- Unsympathetic and bulky side extensions and garages on semi and detached homes
- uPVC and aluminium framed replacement window frames
- Satellites dishes facing the road.
- Wheelie bins located on front gardens on Bury Road
- Loss of front boundaries due to driveway parking, particularly on the eastern side of the High Street
- Heavy and fast moving traffic along the eastern side of the High Street.
- Lamp posts needing repainting on Bury Road
ST JOHNS CHARACTER AREA
8.0 St Johns Avenue has a homogenous and suburban character distinct from the much of the conservation area. It contains a a highly distinctive group of 1920/30s semi-detached homes laid out in a classic Garden City style. The character of the area is, to a large extent, derived from degree of homogeneity present in terms of architectural style, building materials and colour and distinctive landscape features typical of the Garden City movement. A brief explanation of the Garden City Movement is contained on page 67 and in the glossary in Appendix C.
8a.) Even numbers 4 to 30 St Johns Avenue.
8.1 A particularly high degree of architectural similarity exists between numbers 4 to 30 (evens) St Johns Avenue. All of these properties have the same projecting gabled bays and steep pitched roofs which slope down to low eaves above the ground floor. They also contain identical sets of chimney pots and stacks. Many have also preserved original features such as doors and front garden hedges and lawns.
8.2 The cumulative ‘group value’ of this group of properties is derived from a number of unifying and shared features. It is desirable to preserve this unity by restricting unsympathetic or negative alterations that would gradually erode this sense of homogeneity and character present.
8b.) Steep gabled roofs with low eaves
8.3 On the southern side of St Johns Avenue (even numbers 4 to 30) pairs of projecting gable bays frame pitched tiled roofs which slope steeply down towards low eaves just above the ground floor. This consistent roof shape is a defining feature of the character of the St John’s character area. As a classic Garden City architectural style, these roofs play a critical role in defining the Garden Village character of St Johns Avenue.
8.4 Fortunately, the front-facing roof of homes on this side of the road have not been affected by dormer windows or other roof extensions. Changes of this kind should be resisted as they have the potential to diminish the visual character of the sloping roofs.
8c.) Hipped Roofs and Sweeping Gables
8.5 On the northern side of St Johns Avenue (numbers 7 to 37 odd) the roofscape is characterised by hipped roofs and sweeping gables. These forms of design are also classic Garden City architectural styles and help to generate the area’s distinct character. It is important to preserve the architectural dimensions of these roofs and ensure dormer roof extensions do not diminish the original character and style.
8d.) Tall rectangular chimney stacks and terracotta chimney pots
8.6 Tall rectangular chimney stacks containing sets of three terracotta chimney pots are placed at regular intervals along roofs and add regularity and unity to the rooflines and are important visual elements.
8e.) Consistent building materials and colour
8.7 The majority of dwellings are rendered in grey/brown coloured pebble dash, although some homes have been painted beige yellow. Consistent building materials and colouring is a critical component of the area’s unified character.
8f.) Front Garden Hedges
8.8 Front garden hedges are critically important and original landscape features on the street and reflect the Garden Village character. In general, front hedges are well-preserved and well-maintained. However, in some areas they have been partially or wholly removed to make way for vehicle driveways. This is especially the case towards the eastern edge of the conservation area boundary. It is important that this threat is managed sensitively in a way which ensures the majority of hedges can be maintained and the Garden Village character preserved.
8g.) Garden lawns
8.9 Front garden lawns are also original Garden Village landscape design features which are worthy of preservation. Regrettably in a number of instances lawns have been wholly removed and this has diminished the Garden Village character of the street scene.
8h.) Grass Verges
8.10 Grass verges can be found between the pavement and the kerb along St John’s Road. They were also original design elements of the layout of the Avenue and also play an important role in maintaining its Garden Village character.
8i.) Rows mature London Plain trees
8.11 Rows of London Plane trees placed at even spaces down both sides of the road create an attractive avenue, which is an integral feature of the street’s leafy, Garden Village character.
8j.) Views along St Johns Avenue
8.12 The arrangement of homes in a crescent shape creates a visually pleasing sequence of views moving west to east along St Johns Avenue. An important feature of these views is the way in which homes are viewed between large English Plane trees. Consistent lines of front garden hedges are also critical to the symmetry, composition and green character of these linear views.
8k.) Casement windows
8.13 Eight pane casement window frames are an important characteristic of homes along the street. However, the vast majority of traditional window frames on the street have been replaced by modern uPVC windows.
8l.) Original doors
8.14 Original doors on St Johns are typically colourful and contain 6 or 9 individual pane windows. For this reason, original doors combine attractively with casement windows. The most prominent doors on the street are those in red and blue which inject vibrant colours onto the street scene. White uPVC doors have replaced a number of traditional doors on the street and appear to be out of context in
terms of style, design, colour and texture. This has the potential, cumulatively, to erode the character of the area.
Changes to the shape of the roof elevations
- Steep sloping hipped roofs are a consistent and significant characteristic of St Johns. Whilst there are few examples of front facing dormer roof extensions, this form of development does have the potential to significantly erode the character of St Johns Avenue, which is derived, to a large degree, from the presence of steep sloping, tiled, hipped roofs.
- Due to the steepness of the roof pitches, porch extensions and other front facing extensions are not easily accommodated on homes on St Johns Avenue. This is because it is difficult for the roof of any front facing extension to follow the same pitch as the main homes.
- A number of examples of porch extensions exist in the character area. However, the most appropriate and sympathetic porch extension to the character of St Johns Avenue would be porch extensions with cat slide roofs. This involves drawing the eaves of the extension down below the eaves height that of the main house in order to continue the shape of the roof and mirror the pitch of the roof as much as possible (see photo bottom left).
The removal of front garden hedges and lawns
- Front garden hedges are threatened with removal to accommodate vehicle parking on front gardens or replacement fences which have lower maintenance requirements. This should be resisted as front garden hedges are an intrinsic feature and make a key contribution to the ‘Garden Suburb’ character of the street.
Parking on grass verges
- Footway parking on grass verges adjacent to the pavement is destroying grass verges and obscuring them from view. These landscaping features are an essential component of the streets’ character and should be visible and well maintained.
- Satellite dishes positioned on front elevations facing the highway are an issue. Where possible they should be placed on the side or rear of homes, out of view.
The removal of original doors
- A number of dwellings have uPVC replacement doors which do not match the original doors found in the area in terms of style, materials or colour.
MULBERRY GREEEN CHARACTER APPRAISAL
9.0 Mulberry Green is located a kilometre east of Old Harlow and has retained its distinct character similar to that of a hamlet. Historically Mulberry Green and Old Harlow were separate entities. This sense of separation has been preserved, to a large extent, as a result of the curvature of the High Street and the presence of Church House and the cricket ground which has prevented development merging the two villages.
9.1 Mulberry Green contains 11 listed buildings built in the 16th, 17th and 18th century. It contains a number of large homes with large landscaped gardens, coach houses and granaries. It also contains a row of well-preserved smaller cottages and Georgian terraced homes which are built on smaller plots of land.
9.2 Important elements of the character of Mulberry Green are the hill which rises steeply to the east and an attractive row of mature trees which lines the northern side of the road. The focal point of Mulberry Green is the Green Man Hotel and the village triangle.
9.3 Modern infill development opposite and to the rear of Mulberry Green Hotel and behind has been incorporated sympathetically into the character area
9a.) Ambulance and fire station
9.4 Old Harlow ambulance and fire station lie at the entrance to the character area, on the turning of the High Street as it enters Mulberry Green. The ambulance station (a locally listed building) built in the late Victorian era provides a particularly attractive entrance to the character area and can be viewed from the top of the turning at the High Street.
9b.) The village triangle
9.5 The triangle facing the Green Man pub acts as a small village green. It contains a post box, bench, a large, mature Oak Tree and a road sign. It is an important focal point in the area and helps to create the hamlet character of Mulberry Green.
9e.) Trees, green spaces and grass verges
9.6 Mulberry Green and Watlington Road have a leafy and green character. Vegetation adjacent to the cricket ground and Church House provides a green buffer between Mulberry Green and the rest of the High Street and Old Harlow to the west. This green buffer plays a critical role in separating Mulberry Green from Old Harlow and provides a leafy entrance to Mulberry Green.
9.7 Key landscape features in Mulberry Green are the row of trees found on the verge outside number 3 to 7 Mulberry Green which rise in unison with the topography of the area. These trees play a significant role in defining the views in the area.
9.8 Grass verges run parallel to the highway on stretches of Watlington Road and Mulberry Green and are well fronted by homes in the area. Hedges and well-maintained front lawns also help to define the green character of the area.
9b.) The Green Man Hotel
9.9 The Green Man pub (Grade II Listed) is a significant landmark in the character area. It is located at the central focal point of Mulberry Green, at the intersection of the High Street, Old Road and Mulberry Green and can be viewed from the top of the hill on Mulberry Green as well as from Old Road.
9.10 Painted white, with 12 pane sash windows painted green, clad in ivy and surrounded by attractive landscaping and a white picket fence, the pub is a highly attractive feature of the character area. It is evidence of the historic role played by Mulberry Green as a coaching station for horse drawn coaches on the way to and from London.
9f.) Significant Views
9.11 Views up and down the hill on Mulberry Green are the most significant in the area. Landscape plays an important role, particularly the position and height of trees fronting number 3 to 31 Mulberry Green. Viewed north, these trees rise in height in synchronicity with the topography of the area and provide an enclosed landscape setting. Viewed south, the view ends at the Oak tree next to the post box facing the Green Man pub. Interesting views of the Ambulance Station and the Fire Station open up along the curve of the High Street.
9g.) Important unlisted buildings
9.12 There are a number of important unlisted buildings in the area, in particular, 35 and 37 Mulberry Green. These buildings contain a range of attractive original features such as sliding sash windows and original doors which are worthy of preservation.
9h.) Georgian terraces (3,5 and 7 Mulberry Green)
9.13 Grade II Listed homes between 3 to 7 Mulberry Green were built around 1800 and are very well-preserved example of a Georgian housing. The properties are effectively separated from the rest of Mulberry Green by a line of tall, mature trees and a raised grass verge. Homes contain a number of original architectural features such as 4 and 12 paned sliding sash windows and original doors as well as other attractive elements such as coloured picket fences and window shutters.
9i.) Cottages on Old Road
9.14 There is an attractive line of hipped roofed cottages between numbers 1, 2, 4, 6, 7 and 10 Old Road which contains two Grade II listed buildings (2 and 4 Old Road) as well as a locally listed building (1 Old Road). Cottages contain a number of significant architectural features such as original doors, sliding 12 and 4 paned sash windows and chimney pots. Alterations to number 1 Old Road have resulted in uPVC casement windows. Apart from number 6 Old Road, which fronts directly onto the pavement, most homes have well-defined front garden boundaries. A number of homes also have attractive front garden hedges.
9j.) Plot sizes
9.15 The character area contains two very different types of plot sizes. Homes are grouped at a slightly higher density around the centre of Mulberry Green and at the bottom of Old Road. Here buildings are located within close proximity to the highway with relatively small front and back gardens.
9.16 However, in most other parts of the character area buildings take up larger plot sizes and are set further back from the road. This is particularly the case along Watlington Road and up Mulberry Green hill.
9k.) Recent infill development behind and opposite Mulberry Green House
9.17 Development behind and opposite Mulberry Green House co-exists sympathetically with the surrounding historic buildings in Mulberry Green. Large modern homes on the north side of Mulberry Green have been built at a appropriate scale and contain traditional sash windows and doors. Considerate use of building materials and colours has ensured that the character of the area has been preserved and enhanced.
9.18 Development to the rear of Mulberry Green has also produced an interesting mews which also contains homes and flats built to an appropriate design standard, in keeping with the overall character of the area.
- In general, homes in Mulberry Green are very well-preserved and maintained, reflecting the fact that such a great proportion of them are listed. However, Cotswolds, a listed building, is in need of maintenance and painting.
- On unlisted buildings in the area, replacement windows are potentially an issue due to the lack of planning controls. This is evident on 1 Old Road which exhibits an inconsistent variety of replacement window styles which diminishes the historic character of the house. Replacement windows should ensure a consistent style is maintained on the whole home, which responds to the prevailing character of the windows in the area.
WATLINGTON ROAD CHARACTER ANALYSIS
10.0 Watlington Road contains a number of large and highly attractive Edwardian homes laid out in a linear fashion. The character of Watlington Road is more suburban than much of the conservation area with homes spaciously set within large plots.
10a.) Gable fronted Edwardian homes
10.1 The northern side of Watlington Road contains a colourful set of gable fronted Edwardian properties. The most attractive of which is number 9 Watlington Road, which exhibits pargeting and timber bargeboards.
10b.) Large plot sizes
10.2 The majority of buildings on Watlington Road take up large plot sizes and contain sizeable front gardens and long back gardens. This character should be retained along the street. There is a potential for over-development within plots, through large front extensions, that would diminish this character. Residential development to the rear of properties is also a potential threat to the character of Watlington Road, on those sites where access routes could be provided.
9c.) Well-defined front garden boundaries
10.3 Although number 9 Watlington Road has an open-front, the majority of properties along the street have well-defined front boundaries. These are typically defined by wooden fences, hedges and brick walls.
9d.) Greenery and trees
10.4 Street trees, garden hedges and grass verges are a significant feature of the character area. A particularly important tree is the large cedar tree found outside number 7 Watlington Road.
10d.) Casement window frames
10.5 A defining characteristic of the street are Edwardian casement windows, which are typically 8 pane. Particularly well-preserved sets of original casement window panes are found on number 28 Watlington Road.
10e.) Variation in building materials and colour
10.6 A diverse variation in building materials and colours exists along the street - from grey pebble-dash, red brick, pargeting, wooden frame, to pink and white render. This contributes positively to the character of the area.
10f.) Verandas and open porches
10.7 Number 5 and 4 Watlington Road display attractive Edwardian open porches which are worthy of preservation. Number 9 also exhibits a veranda supported by timber beams.
- There are a number of examples of bulky garages and front extensions which have a rather dominating and negative effect on the overall character of a number of homes. There is a significant danger of over-development in the character area, due to the size of plots.