Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society takes special interest in all planning applications and particularly those which affect conservation areas.
The Conservation Advisory Working Party was set up by Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council some years ago to peruse and advise when planning permission was sought in conservation areas within the Borough. It is made up of elected ward members (Councillors) and representatives of outside bodies covering Architecture, Historic Buildings, Field Clubs, the Trade Council and Newcastle Civic Society (two members). The Borough Council Conservation Officer provides details of all applications which have been submitted.
How it works
Newcastle-under-Lyme has twenty designated Conservation areas within the Borough:- Audley, Basford, Betley, The Brampton, Butterton, Clayton, Keele, Keele Hall, Kidsgrove, Madeley, Maer, Mucklestone, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Shropshire Union Canal, Silverdale, Stubbs Walk, Talke, Trent and Mersey Canal, Whitmore and Wolstanton. Each area is clearly defined.
A formal meeting is held every three weeks. A nucleus of regulars attend and if a planning application is made in one of the Conservation areas a ward councillor often adds his/her support. All members of the Advisory Working Party receive notification prior to the meeting and an agenda, minutes of last meeting, list of planning applications, results of previous deliberations and other relevant information. All this is available at least ten days prior to the meeting so that site visits may be made.
Some planning applications are not in the Conservation areas but nevertheless could affect the area. They are therefore subject to scrutiny by the Advisory Working Party.
There is, however, a downside; a considerable number of properties of architectural or historic interest fall outside the conservation area boundaries. Applications relating to these do not reach the working party and they are often demolished, defaced or altered beyond recognition. Perhaps a register of interesting buildings on the ‘wrong side’ of the boundary should be prepared to set off alarm bells when proposals relating to them are submitted.
Conservation areas were introduced in 1987, only 41 years ago. A lot of work has been done but it is a never ending process. Looking at photographs of Newcastle fifty or sixty years ago we can see just how much of the old town has vanished. Appraisals of Newcastle’s conservation areas are in progress and a time table of ten years has been allocated – two years have already passed – How many of our old buildings will disappear?
The Civic Society is unique: it was formed because of distressing demolitions and is respected by the Advisory Working Party.
We listen, and we are heard.