Place Services were recently commissioned to undertake the review and update of the South Lowestoft Conservation Area Appraisal, to support the aims of the High Street HAZ. This also included a review of the boundaries and extent of the Article 4 Direction coverage.
The project kicked off in 2021 with baseline research to explore the historic and archaeological significance of the South Lowestoft Conservation Area, with a focus on the area of Kirkley as well.
Our team undertook an in-depth exploration of the history of the area, to draw out the elements which make the settlements of South Lowestoft / Kirkley unique, particularly in relation to its development as a fashionable seaside resort and the influence Morton Peto had in the 19th century on its layout and architectural style, still discernible today. Throughout this stage, our team worked closely with local groups including the Lowestoft History group, the Suffolk Record Office and Suffolk Gardens Trust, as well as local historians. This ensured a wide range of sources were considered, with all datasets captured, and the final historic baseline was holistic and a true reflection of the wealth of local knowledge in Lowestoft.
Our built heritage and historic landscape specialists undertook two site assessments to ensure visitation of the area at varied times and weather conditions. We also attended visits alongside the Local Authority Conservation Officer and HAZ Officer, which aided in addressing and identifying key opportunities throughout the Conservation Area early on.
The site visit was crucial for the review of the boundary and to establish proposed boundary changes. Our team made recommendations for boundary alterations, informed by Historic England guidance, which were mapped using GIS and supplied to the Council alongside written analysis.
Following the site visits, our team produced the appraisal which considered: architecture and built form; materials; relationships with open spaces; distinct character areas such as the town and seafront; key views; positive/neutral/negative contributors; and designated heritage assets. Many of these elements were plotted on an interactive map, created in GIS, and included within the final report.
Our team also produced a tailored management plan, which made recommendations for the short- and long-term management of the Conservation Area. We ensured that management recommendations are SMART and made with agreement from the Local Authority. The opportunities we identified were shared with our clients as part of the regular progress updates we provided, so that they were transparent throughout the project. We focused specifically on the management and improvement opportunities of shopfronts, due to the nature of the High Street HAZ, and included bespoke illustrations and guidance on key shopfront elements.
The final document was created using InDesign Adobe Software, which created a high quality, navigable and visual document.
A separate, detailed Article 4 review was also undertaken, which comprised of boundary reviews and analysis of recent changes to legislation to ensure that the correct terminology (for example, referring to use class orders) was applied consistently across the area.
Place Services were proud to support the Council through the period of public consultation, by helping to publicise through social media and responding to queries submitted throughout the six-week period. Two members of our team attended the consultation exhibition, which took place at two separate locations (the Parcels Office and the Kirkley Centre).
The new Conservation Area boundary and document was unanimously approved by Cabinet in January 2022.
We found that a key component to successfully working within a HAZ was to ensure regular communication not only between our team and our client, but also through ongoing public engagement and workshops with other professionals undertaking projects which ran simultaneously. For example, this ensured that the findings of our work collaborated with those of the Masterplan, also completed in 2021.
“[It was a] very enjoyable experience working with Megan and Maria on the South Lowestoft/Kirkley Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan. Both very collaborative people, organised 2 fantastic consultation events and actioned feedback and consultation responses accordingly.”