Planning for area's future

PUBLISHED: 12:21 25 January 2007 | UPDATED: 14:59 12 May 2010

More than 80 people visited the display - Pics: Daniel Wilson

More than 80 people visited the display - Pics: Daniel Wilson

A PUBLIC consultation exercise on a review of Royston s conservation area began on Saturday. Almost 100 people visited a display in Royston Town Hall to see a scheme drawn-up by North Herts District Council. The review includes additions to the conservati

Conservation officers Mark Simmons and Liz Martens explaining the scheme at the display in Royston Town Hall - 2147DW

A PUBLIC consultation exercise on a review of Royston's conservation area began on Saturday.

Almost 100 people visited a display in Royston Town Hall to see a scheme drawn-up by North Herts District Council.

The review includes additions to the conservation area and a number of buildings that have been removed from the original scheme, which was set up more than 30 years ago.

Speaking to members of Royston Town Council's finance committee on Monday evening, district council conservation officer Mark Simmons said the emphasis of the review was on the "historic core of Royston".

The conservation area is seen as essential to help protect both listed buildings and those of local interest.

Mr Simmons said the creation of the conservation area would mean that new developments would have to be seen as showing the potential to enhance the area.

He said that work on the conservation area would involve "joined up thinking" with the district council's urban review of Royston town centre.

The projects would, he said, "dovetail" into each other. "The projects are separate, but they are related," he said.

Future developments, he said, would need to enhance the "character and appearance" of the area.

His colleague, conservation officer Liz Martens, told the members that although a conservation area's aim is to protect the buildings included, any development "around the edges" will be viewed on the basis of seeing its effect on the scheme as a whole.

"The understanding now is that more consideration will be given for quality developments," she said.

The results of the consultation exercise will be reported to the district council's Royston area committee on March 14 and then be considered by members of the Cabinet a week later.

Changes to the conservation area include the addition of the corn mill in Kneesworth Street and the dropping of an area including Princes Mews.

Mr Simmons said he had been "heartened" by the number of people who attended the display on Saturday.

He said that the district council was attempting to complete the exercise by April so it could meet one of its best value targets set for the past year.

But Cllr Rod Kennedy said: "I hope it is not going to be a case of rush conclusions just to meet targets."

Councillor Bill Prime said he had been impressed by the project.

But he said the creation of the conservation area had to show that it was not just a "toothless" exercise when it came to discussions on new developments.

As one example, he said, the loss of the Priory cinema may not had happened had it been included in the original conservation area. He said he was still "surprised" that the demolition of the cinema was allowed.

"We have to look at the future as well as the present," he said.

The display of the scheme will be on show at Royston library from Wednesday, February 7 to Friday, March 2.

Cllr Richard Thake, the district council's portfolio holder for planning, said: "Royston has a long and venerable history with a special character of its own.

"The council wants to work with residents to decide which areas need the special protection that comes from being in a conservation area.

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