Heritage led Conservation...for our time
The conservation of the historic parts of towns is something everyone can get involved with. It is a responsibility that local planning authorities are obliged to take up through conservation designation and protective planning policies and guidance. This happens throughout Southend-on-Sea but Hamlet Court Road and the surrounding area is not yet officially designated, although it is recognised as an area of some architectural and heritage significance. But conservation is also something where local residents and traders can step in, take ownership and actively help to protect the area - the historic parts of town where people live and work.
Hamlet Court Road, the focal part of the area, is historically important as a late Victorian and particularly, Edwardian shopping street - a public gathering place of huge local heritage. The road demonstrates an incredible flourish of Edwardian architecture with Classical, Baroque and Arts & Crafts references, and later, the strong, local Art Deco influence. It demonstrates a time of great societal confidence and exuberance. Most of the local houses that survive today were built at this time and echo the variation, decoration and craftsmanship of Hamlet Court Road. This makes the area historically significant, important for our heritage, and there is not another like it in south-east Essex.
So it is remarkable that local people have come together to form a new conservation group, before the area is even designated. Perhaps the old local confidence is not quite extinguished in these challenging times in which we live. But there is much to do, involving local people, seeking conservation designation and then encouraging and working with the Council to roll out progressive policies and guidelines to protect the best of the local area. Where new development comes along, as it must for an area to thrive again, it should aggregate with the heritage values and the historical significance, laid down over a century and a half, allowing heritage to confer on the proposed works, however modern these may be.
Hamlet Court Conservation Forum (HCCF) is therefore a great opportunity for local people to come together to shape the protection and future of the area. It can also become a great local resource to help inform and build local community cohesion. Please lend your support to the Forum here.
The HCCF committee meets every 4-6 weeks and now has an 'open access' period at the start of every meeting. This is available to any member of the Forum to bring along any constructive comments or questions, within the scope of our constitution, for us to address. Our next meeting is on Tuesday 11th June 2019 at 7.30pm at ENS, 98 Hamlet Court Road, Westcliff (next door to Field Bros). We regret that 'open access' is not open to non members but we are very happy to receive any emailed comments - please see http://hamletcourt.org/contact/
12/16 - First meeting with senior Council officer and Portfolio Holder; warm outline support received
7/17 - Detailed statement of case for conservation designation submitted to the Council
9/17 - Presentation to the Council Conservation Working Party; widespread Member support and agreement on a proposition to be put before Cabinet
11/17 - Cabinet proposition and agreement that an officer report on conservation implications would be commissioned and reported back to Cabinet in 1/18
1/18 - Cabinet presentation of report deferred until 5/18
4/18 - Meeting with Alison Griffiths, CEO of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council
5/18 - Change of Council Portfolio holder for Planning; inevitably this delays progress on conservation designation
7/18 - First 'Love Hamlet Court Road' event
1/19 - Council decide that HCR conservation position is to be assessed by consultants as part of the new Local Plan work and initiate consultant procurement
4/19 - Purcell appointed by Council to undertake heritage work for local plan, with assurance that HCR would be the first priority
5/19 - High Street Heritage Action Zone funding opportunity launched by Historic England; HCCF urgently lobby Council for fast track conservation designation to the top half of HCR to enable a bid to be submitted