Planning For the Future White Paper

This important consultation has been available to the public for some weeks  – see here https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/907647/MHCLG-Planning-Consultation.pdf

Although it says little about historic building and places with further details to follow, we have made our consultation contribution here. We decided to keep our response short to make just two main points about how we think planning should adapt to better care for the widespread historic places that affect most peoples lives and deal with frequently seen failings.

Please have a read and let us have any comments.

Council propose designation area

The area for conservation designation in Westcliff has now been proposed by the Leigh Councillor heading this up with officers has the top end of Hamlet Court Road only. In part this is great news and will be wonderful for Westcliff to see our rich heritage contribute to economic regeneration, hopefully with access to new funding streams. But we have been making the case for 3 years for the whole of HCR and the local residential roads to be protected and this was what 91.5% of the public said they wanted in our public survey. This area is at least equal if not greater historically and architecturally than Leigh (especially the east Broadway designated 40 years ago) and is supported by Dr Mervyn Miller who is a world authority on Garden Suburbs. The Council’s own survey failed with only 8 respondents so there is absolutely no public backing in ignoring this wider area. We will keep making the case and when this goes to Council Cabinet in November we hope our Councillors will choose to support the public and widen the potential for designation. Please keep supporting the work by taking the survey which will be closing in the coming weeks (more news to follow) here https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/K2TM3HT or post your view

Consultation Leaflet drops through local doors…

Our information leaflet will be dropping through all the local doors in August (having been delayed in the spring by the Coronavirus crisis). All residents and businesses will have the opportunity to have their say in the conservation protection of the area and its contribution to local heritage led regeneration by going to our online survey here:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/K2TM3HT

You may have already seen and completed the survey – thank you for helping your local neighbourhood

But if not now is your opportunity via the link above.

Tonight’s letter to our Councillors….

Dear Councillor,

The possible conservation area designation of the Hamlet Court area is before you at Place Scrutiny tomorrow evening. We just wanted to drop you a quick line to express the considerable community support for designation – our group has been working on this for the last 3 years.

We want designation to help protect the wonderful history and architecture but, importantly, to help the economic regeneration of the area. This can happen as many place and retail experts in the UK now recognise and this has led to the High Street Heritage Action Zone programme, part of the Governments Future High Street Fund. Our bid to this fund for £1.8m last summer failed because the road is not yet a conservation area so designation is simply vital to access these funds, to help traders and to help mobilise the community – we are ready and waiting to help.

I attach a document which we sent to the Council recently yet cannot see that this has been reported to Members. It is rather long but the most important and, we hope, helpful content is on the first 3 pages.

We really want to see the local community given the consultation opportunity to choose if the wider area, including all of Hamlet Court Road and the wonderful neighbouring roads, should be designated. And this could be one of the most remarkable urban improvement initiatives that the Council has ever taken.

We hope for universal, cross party support.

Kind regards,

Andy Atkinson MSc FRSA

Historical Building Consultant

Chairman

For and on behalf of

Hamlet Court Conservation Forum

ps Our report includes a remarkable testament from an international expert on the significance of Ditton Court Road, the first residential verged road in the Borough by some 30 years, preceding Chalkwell, Thorpe Bay and West Leigh estates – a very special part of the town’s history that deserves protection and restoration

Conservation Takes a Big Step Forwards

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council Cabinet are going to consider Conservation Area Designation on the 16th January! After two and a half years of stating the case and a considerable amount of lobbying this is a massive step forwards and incredibly significant for Hamlet Court Road and Westcliff. If approved in due course by the Council it would mean that the amazing architecture is protected and we can work to get funds into the road and generally mobilize the community, traders and the Council for the type of regeneration effort that is needed and is widely being promoted by the Government, Historic England, retail and place management experts across the land.

At last Hamlet Court Road might be able to look forward to real progress as a modern day high street with a celebrated history.

Community Litter Pick

We decided that if we couldn’t get the Christmas lights back (this will happen but needs a bigger effort than at first thought) we’d help Hamlet Court Road in the best way we could with a community litter pick. If you are free for an hour or so on Saturday December 14th we will be meeting at 9.30am on the pavement outside Savers. Why not help your road in a small way this festive season?

Love Hamlet Court Road

‘Love Hamlet Court Road’ is tomorrow when Hamlet Court Conservation Forum will be in the street to talk to you about what we do and how we are working to protect HCR. It’s also a call to everyone to ‘Step In Here – Step Into Your Street’ and support the road with your presence, browsing, shopping, eating, drinking, taking that treatment or other experience. We have some great local businesses and this is your local road so please support it if you can.

A Momentous Time for Hamlet Court Road

Last October the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced substantial funding for British High Streets including £44m for historic High Streets. HCCF has been working very hard to encourage the Council to support a bid for up to £2m of this money and the recent change in Administration has seen support coming from the Labour and Liberal Democrat groups. We can make the bid and we believe we have a good chance of success – we have already indicated our interest to Historic England (who are running the fund) and they are well aware of Hamlet Court Road’s special interest. However, it all depends upon Conservation Area designation and general support from the Council. We are lobbying very hard for the top half of Hamlet Court Road (south of London Road) to have a fast track Conservation Area designation and for the Council to partner with the local community for the bid. So as we write it is a case of wait and see but with a 12th July deadline for the bid we will know soon if our Council are going to support our work and aspirations.

The image opposite shows what can be achieved with before and after pictures for The Strand in Derby

Council to repair street furniture

Great News – Following our requests to the Council the damaged street furniture in Hamlet Court Road, such as bent and broken railings, wonky bollards and sign posts, and displaced planters, is due to be repaired – some work has already taken place. Our thanks to officer Andy Lewis for acting so swiftly and we look forward to seeing the repairs roll out in the coming month or so.

 

News for 2019

Big News 1 for 2019 – the Council are in the process of engaging consultants to undertake the ‘heritage work’ in the Hamlet Court area. We are not entirely sure what this means but it will certainly involve some sort of assessment of local heritage. The community will be invited to participate in the consultation and we will be starting our research into local history. If anyone has any historic information particularly old family photos and memories we would love to hear from you. Please email us here http://hamletcourt.org/contact/ or post on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/groups/HamletCourt/. It has taken a great deal of work to get to this point so we can be very pleased.

Big News 2 for 2019 – this year a main piece of our work is to help bring about a traders partnership with the Council. This has the potential to access funds and bring about local improvements but most importantly engage the traders with the community and the Council. We hope this will enable us to achieve things like the Xmas lights now that we have more time than was available for this project last year.

Big News 3 for 2019 – this year is an important year for the local elections as Councillor Jonathan Garston is standing for re-election and his seat is finely balanced. We have asked BOTH main political parties to support local regeneration and we hope this is an opportunity for politicians across the spectrum to join in supporting the local community. More details will follow in the coming weeks but watch this space for updates.

If you are interested in joining our work we would love to invite you sit in on a few meetings to see what we are up to. Details can be found here http://hamletcourt.org/conservation/. Membership and local enthusiasm are the only qualifications!