Recently, National Government tasked local authorities with reviewing their conservation areas and listed buildings. To this end the NBC has drawn up a Town Conservation Area Plan. This Plan identifies buildings and structures in the town centre which are protected in the face of development plans which might call for their demolition and/or alteration. Additionally, more areas outside the town centre are being designated for conservation. These range from parts of a village (eg parts of Keele and Betley) or neighbourhoods (eg the Brampton) to individual buildings (eg Keele Hall and the Guild Hall).
National Government has also asked local authorities to produce local lists to protect those buildings and structures not protected by conservation area status or by English Heritage listing. The local listing as its title suggests is a more local round-up of building and structures which are part of local history and which may add to the individuality and ambiance of local neighbourhoods. The range can be from stone walls to street lamps to buildings and roof and ground surfaces.
Should we be involved with this? Looking at old photographs of the Borough in general and Newcastle in particular, it is obvious that many significant landmarks have been demolished and replaced by lesser buildings and structures. The 1960s was a particular era of such ‘renewal’. Given the amount of current, proposed development and regeneration for North Staffordshire it is important that the same mistakes are not repeated and that new developments and buildings do not demean or have an adverse visual impact on existing buildings, particularly in prominent positions within the Borough/town centre. One could say that a new era of eyesores has already been started.
Why is a local list important? There is no doubt that people have an affection for certain buildings and structures not only in the town centre but also in their own neighbourhoods. It is important that these be identified and safeguarded for posterity, where possible. Local communities can draw up and agree a list of buildings and structures within their neighbourhoods, which are important to them, for consideration on a Local List, which could give them a measure of protection. For example, the Thistleberry neighbourhood has asked for local listing for the remaining stone bridge parapet (its partner was recently demolished by developers) and a dry stone wall.
Preserving the best of local heritage can be accomplished, people just have to care enough about it.
The Civic Society is here to assist you in that endeavour.