Southend Central Area Action Plan & Proposals Map - Proposed Submission
7. The Historic Environment
SCAAP Objective 3
- To always have full regard to the unique assets of the Central Area including buildings and public realm of heritage and environmental quality and its spectacular coastal setting, rich social and built heritage, its excellent rail links to London, and its airport;
7.1 Policy Context for Development affecting the Historic Environment in the Central Area
221. The SCAAP will actively seek to celebrate heritage, particularly the role that the historic fabric of the Town Centre and Central Area has in defining its unique character. Each part of the central area has played a different role in the development of the town and this has resulted in an eclectic mix of historic buildings that showcase their different functions and origins. Many of the buildings, especially those with associations to the Seafront, are elaborately decorated and this is one of the key distinctions between the older buildings and the new ones in this area.
222. The historic character of the Central Area is, however, not only a result of individual historic buildings – it also involves the use of these buildings, the streets, open spaces and planted areas and the way they relate to one another. Together these have a considerable impact on the character of the central area, especially in respect of its attractiveness for economic activity, its amenity value for residents and the impression it makes on visitors. The preservation and enhancement of the heritage assets within the central area is therefore an overarching policy objective.
223. In some cases, contemporary architecture will be acceptable close to existing historic buildings, and in these instances it is vital that modern design respects and complements the quality of the built heritage. The central conservation areas have significant intrinsic value and the SCAAP seeks to respect their character in a positive way. In areas close to heritage assets, scale and grain will be particularly important.
224. Development within the Central Area that impacts on heritage assets must have regard to the following policies.
|National Policy||PPS 5 Planning for the Historic Environment|
Strategic Objective 14
Policy KP2.4 Development Principles
Policy CP4.7 The Environment and Urban Renaissance
Development Management DPD
Policy DM4 Tall Buildings (including the setting of
Policy DM5 Southend-on-Sea’s Historic Environment
Policy DM6 The Seafront
Policy DM14 Shopping Frontage Management (including shopfronts)
225. These are Local Development Framework Policies that cover general issues relating to the protection of heritage assets in the whole of Southend Borough. Policies specific to the Central Area can be found below.
7.2 Overview of Historic Environment in Central Area
226. Our conservation areas and historic buildings are important reference points for many within the community; they help to define what is special about our town and they make a valuable contribution to its character.
227. Southend’s central conservation areas reflect the key stages in the development of the town. Prittlewell Conservation Area to the north is the town’s oldest settlement, Eastern Esplanade Conservation Area on the seafront is associated with the early development of the seafront when it was just a fishing hamlet, The Kursaal Conservation Area just to the west, is related to Southend’s growth into a major seaside resort in the late 19th century, and Clifftown and Warrior Square Conservation Areas showcase the earliest of Southend’s residential developments in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
228. Each of these areas has their own unique character which must be preserved and enhanced as we move forward with the development and regeneration of the central area.
Listed and Locally Listed Buildings
229. Both inside and outside the conservation areas are a large number of Listed and Locally Listed Buildings. These exhibit an impressive quality of architecture and include a wide variety of styles and, as both individuals and groups of buildings, also play an important role in the town’s unique heritage. Some of these, such as the Pier, the Kursaal, the Palace Hotel (now the Park Inn Palace) and St. Mary’s Church, are well known as local historic landmarks.
230. Overall the heritage in the central area is defined by its fine grain and historic street form, its attractive and varied historic architecture and, in many cases, the special and historic relationship with the seafront. Preserving and celebrating Southend’s historic environment, especially around the core area is a key issue throughout all the stages of this AAP. The natural and built heritage of Southend is a major asset in the context of the development of the town as the Region’s cultural and educational hub.
Frontages of Townscape Merit
231. Frontages of Townscape Merit are a heritage designation that specifically applies to historic facades, many of which are shopping parades, and most of which can be found in the central area (there are also some in Hamlet Court Road). Buildings with this designation are recognised as having historic street frontages that make an important positive contribution to the historic character of the central area and this designation will be a material consideration for planning applications affecting these properties. Unlike the other designations, Frontages of Townscape Merit only affect the main frontage(s) of the building (this is usually the front elevation only, except where the building is on a corner and has dual street frontages); secondary elevations are not protected. These frontages often have decoration at upper levels and attractive windows or balconies that are the key to their special character and these must be retained and respected in development proposals. Unfortunately very few historic shopfronts on these historic buildings remain but the Council will actively seek to upgrade the more modern shopfronts to ones which are more traditional and better respect the historic character of the frontage. This also applies to associated signage which also needs to be appropriate for the historic character of the building. Traditional decorative hanging signs and painted timber fascias with external illumination should be considered. Corporate branding will need to be adapted to suit the context.
232. The current locations of Frontages of Townscape Merit are shown on the Proposals Map. These will be reappraised in the next refresh of the Deign and Townscape Guide SPD.
Further information on the character of each of the conservation areas, listed buildings, locally listed building and frontages of townscape merit can be found in The Heritage for Southend Central Evidence Base Documents and on the Councils Website.
Key Historic Character Areas and Policy Objectives in the Central Area
233. The SCAAP boundary includes a number of areas with high concentrations of heritage assets which have very different characters and issues and where a more tailored approach to their preservation and enhancement is required. These are outlined below.
7.3 The Clifftown Quarter
234. The Clifftown Quarter has the largest number of heritage assets in the core area. A large proportion of it is covered by the Clifftown Conservation Area which includes the highest concentration of listed buildings, locally listed buildings. This quarter also has the highest number of frontages of townscape merit. The quality of the buildings and the historic fine grain of the area are defining characteristics of this part of the Town Centre and these qualities must be respected by new development in this quarter.
235. The vision for The Clifftown Quarter, especially close to the Town Centre, is to create an area with a strong cultural identity, capitalising on the fine grain historic street form, its attractive historic character and links to Royal Terrace and the Cliff Gardens. There is an opportunity for small scale independent retailing, boutiques, cafe culture, restaurants, bars and small studio style workspace and workshops in the area, which along with the regeneration of the New Empire Theatre, will contribute to Clifftown’s identity as a cultural / creative hub. This type of character already works well in Leigh Broadway and Old Town and is also successful in other seaside locations such as Brighton Lanes.
The Council will require, through the development management process and other initiatives, all new development in the Clifftown Quarter affecting heritage assets to: Policy HE1 - The Clifftown Quarter
1. protect and enhance the Conservation Area, its fine grain, links with the Seafront and key views both into and out of the area and of key historic buildings including views of the Palace Hotel, views from the seafront of Royal Terrace, Clifftown Terrace and Clifftown Parade and views from these streets out towards the estuary;
2. maintain and enhance the vibrancy of the Clifftown Quarter and celebrate and enhance its distinctiveness by promoting small scale independent retailing, restaurants, bars, small studio style workspaces and workshops, educational facilities, small scale offices and ancillary residential (usually at upper levels) in the eastern side of the area, closest to the High Street;
3. support and encourage the regeneration of Southend Central Railway Station forecourt, a key gateway into the Town Centre and a locally listed building;
4. preserve and enhance pedestrian routes to the main retail core and promote Clifftown Conservation Area and associated parks and gardens as a promenade circuit offering respite from the busy Town Centre. Improve access to information about the heritage of this unique area; and
5. reduce clutter across the whole quarter, ensure that the public realm is simple and sympathetic to the historic character of the area and look at enhancing historic street furniture.
7.4 The Central Seafront Area
236. The heritage of the Central Seafront is more varied and more scattered than the Clifftown Quarter. Key historic buildings in this area include the Kursaal, the Pier and the Hope Hotel, all of which are listed, and The Palace Hotel, and St John’s Church which are Locally Listed. The potential for significant regeneration in this area is recognised but this needs to respect the important historic buildings both in terms of their fabric, their setting and their value as local landmarks of particular importance within this area are the following Listed Buildings. The Kursaal, Hope Hotel1-3 Marine Parade and 4 Marine Parade. In addition, views of the Kursaal and the Palace Hotel in particular are an important part of the character of the seafront and must be respected. It must be recognised that any renewal of this area will be enriched by the retention and successful integration of all of the historic buildings.
237. The City Beach Scheme has significantly improved the public realm, given greater priority to pedestrians and has enhanced the setting of some of the historic buildings in the Central Seafront Area. This scheme should act as a benchmark for future public realm works in the vicinity.
The Council will require, through the development management process and other initiatives, all new development in the Central Seafront Area affecting heritage assets to: Policy HE2 - The Central Seafront Area
1. preserve all historic buildings in the central seafront area and seek enhancement of their settings;
2. improve pedestrian connections to the main retail core and vice versa and promote linked trips (shopping and leisure). Upgrade the public realm around historic buildings by continuing the streetscape improvements at the eastern end of the area in line with City Beach Scheme (particularly for Eastern Esplanade and The Kursaal Conservation Areas);
3. protect key views of key historic buildings including the Kursaal, the Pier and the Palace Hotel and preserve views of Clifftown Conservation Area from Western Esplanade;
4. reduce impact of vehicular traffic and associated clutter especially around the Kursaal; and
5. realise the development potential of the Pier as an iconic heritage and cultural asset for the town.
7.5 Prittlewell Gateway
238. Prittlewell Conservation Area to the north of the Central Area is an important heritage area in its own right, but also forms a key gateway on the main route into the town centre. This conservation area contains some of the town’s oldest and most important buildings such as St. Mary’s Church, 255 and 275-279 Victoria Avenue but for a long time this area has been in need of regeneration. It suffers from high vacancy rates, deteriorating building fabric and the detrimental impact of the traffic at the junction of Victoria Avenue and East and West Street in particular.
The Council will require, through the development management process and other initiatives, all new development in the Prittlewell Gateway Area affecting heritage assets to: Policy HE3 - Prittlewell Gateway
1. preserve and regenerate the vacant and deteriorating historic buildings and repair gaps in the frontage along Victoria Avenue;
2. protect key views of St. Mary’s Church especially from Victoria Avenue, East Street, Prittlewell Chase and Fairfax Drive;
3. contribute to improvements to the Victoria Avenue / East Street / West Street junction to reduce the visual impact of traffic (and associated street furniture) on the Conservation Area;
4. contribute to the enhancement of the public realm including reduction of street clutter and enhanced soft landscaping; and
5. realise the potential of the backland area to the rear of Victoria Avenue (west side 255 - 289) into a ‘Lanes’ style development to promote specialist and independent industries, associated small scale businesses and ancillary residential units.
7.6 The High Street
239. The character of the High Street is very mixed. It has many modern buildings but interspersed with them are some of its original shops and parades and many of these have been designated as Locally Listed Buildings or Frontages of Townscape Merit. Some fine detailing can be seen particularly at upper levels above the more modern shopfronts which often have a detrimental impact on their overall character. These buildings are an important part of the history of this area and help to make the character of the High Street rich and diverse.
The Council will require, through the development management process and other initiatives, all new development in the High Street affecting heritage assets to: Policy HE4 - The High Street
1. raise the profile of Locally Listed Buildings and Frontages of Townscape Merit in the High Street and seek to upgrade the quality of shopfronts in these buildings so that they have more respect for the historic character of the buildings and make a greater contribution to local character;
2. improve pedestrian links to Warrior Square Gardens and Conservation Area located just to the east of the High Street;
3. continue to upgrade the public realm including the introduction of more trees and planting where possible. Seek to keep the environment clutter free and simple in design to complement the historic buildings. Simplify the floorscape of the High Street when opportunity arises; and
4. promote the heritage of the whole of the central area and encourage linked trips to these areas from the High Street.
For further information on Visually Important views to be protected in the central area see Section 6.0 Public Realm and Environmental Quality Strategy and Appendix 2
240. In addition to these policies, development within the central area that impacts on Frontages of Townscape Merit must have regard to the following policy:
Development proposals (including replacement shopfronts) that impact upon the ‘Frontages of Townscape Merit’ as defined on the Proposals Map will be required to pay special regard to the preservation and restoration of features which contribute to the special character of their frontage. Special attention will be paid to the quality of replacement shopfronts and associated signage to ensure that their design and materials are appropriate to the historic character of the building. Policy HE5 - Frontages of Townscape Merit in the Central Area
7.7 Other Issues affecting Historic Assets in the Central Area
7.7.1 Conversion and alteration of Heritage Assets in the Central Area
241. It is recognised that achieving these policy objectives for the central area may require alternative uses for some of the heritage assets in need of regeneration. The best use for an historic asset is normally the one for which it was designed and whenever possible, continuation of the original use will be encouraged in order to preserve the building’s original character. In cases where is can be clearly demonstrated that the original or current use is no longer viable, alternative uses will be considered but only where this ensures the preservation of the building’s architectural or historic character and appearance. Some uses may be more suitable than others and the former will be looked upon more favourably.
242. In the case of a redundant church, community or industrial building, uses that maintain some degree of openness within the main internal volume and allow the building’s original use and space to be appreciated, will be seen as more acceptable than carving it up completely into smaller units. In Clifftown Church, a grade II listed building in the central area, which has been converted into a theatre school, the former worship space has become the performance area and its height and volume have been largely retained. The conversion of North Road Chapel, a locally listed building in the central area, to open plan offices has also achieved this balance.
243. The external appearance of the building is also a key consideration. The impact of conversion on the envelope of the building should be minimal and sensitive to its historic character.
The Council may, through the development management process, permit conversion of Listed Buildings and buildings on the Local List to sympathetic alternative uses. This will be in exceptional circumstances and only where: Policy HE6 - Conversion of Heritage Assets in the Central Area
1. this is necessary to ensure the building’s preservation or restoration;
2. it has clearly been demonstrated that the original or existing use of the building cannot be retained (evidence of a marketing assessment which has been conducted over a reasonable period of time will normally be required); and
3. the proposed use and any associated alterations are sensitive to the buildings historic and/or architectural character.
7.7.2 Sustainable Development and Heritage Assets in the Central Area
244. Development affecting heritage assets in the central area will need to find the correct balance between improved energy performance and maintaining the building’s special historic interest. In some cases these objectives may be in conflict. It is important to note that the refurbishment of a building is likely to require far less energy than the construction of a new one and this embodied energy can contribute to the building’s sustainability credentials. In most cases it should be possible to achieve a mix of carbon reduction initiatives and renewable energy options that are compatible with the special character of the building. The key consideration for conservation areas, locally listed buildings and frontages of townscape merit will be preserving the external public views that are paramount to local character and need to be maintained unaltered. This also applies to development affecting listed buildings but in these cases the impact on the historic fabric of the building and internal spaces will also need to be considered. Part L of the Building Regulations allows for listed and traditionally constructed buildings to be treated with a degree of consideration so that a balance can be achieved between improving their energy performance yet preserving their character and appearance.
245. The conversions of North Road Chapel and St John’s Stables (close to the central area) have both successfully created sustainable developments that have managed to retain the historic character of the buildings.
246. When historic asset in the Central Area is being converted or altered in a significant way, a record must be made to an approved standard of the historic fabric affected and a report to an approved format submitted to the local planning authority.
7.8 Archaeology in the Central Area
247. Concern for our heritage is not just about our visible historic buildings and areas. Hidden features below ground, in our landscapes and in some of our historic buildings themselves hold evidence of our past and how our society has developed and it is important that such evidence is respected and is preserved or investigated where necessary.
Policy Context for Areas of Archaeology in the Central Area
248. The need for archaeological planning conditions on new developments will be assessed on a site by site basis and must have regard to the following policies:
|National Policy||PPS 5 Planning for the Historic Environment|
Strategic Objective 14
Policy KP2.4 Development Principles
Policy CP4.7 The Environment and Urban Renaissance
Development Management DPD
|Policy DM5 Southend-on-Sea’s Historic Environment|
249. These are existing policies that cover general issues relating to the protection of archaeological assets in the whole of the Borough. Policies specific to the Central Area can be found below.
Overview of Archaeological Interest in the Central Area
250. Within this quite small area there have been archaeological discoveries dating from the earliest evidence for humans in the area to the medieval and later periods and these play an important role in understanding the history of the area. Unsurprisingly the highest concentration of finds is in the Prittlewell Area where the main settlement’s origins began. Some of this area has been excavated for brickearth and other minerals bit this remains the historic heart of the town and the potential for new finds is still significant.
251. Two Scheduled Ancient Monuments are located close to the central area boundary -Prittlewell Priory just north of the boundary and Southchurch Hall to the south east. Immediately to the east of the Priory are Roman and rich, early Saxon cemeteries, which included the chambered tomb of the ‘Prince of Prittlewell’, a discovery of international significance. The tomb was probably that of a member of the East Saxon royal family and further highlights the importance of Prittlewell at this time.
Further information on the details of the finds can be found in the Heritage for Southend Central Evidence Base Document
Areas of Archaeological Potential in the Central Area
252. Although most of the area has been previously developed and much of the archaeology in these locations is likely to have been destroyed, there are still areas of archaeological interest within the Central Area where there is potential for new finds. These sites are:
- Seaway Car Park Area - Possibly built above a palaeochannel with potentially very important evidence for Mesolithic occupation and environmental information. This is based on the presence of the known channel (i.e. the valley which is very obvious) and the discovery of a mesolithic axe a little to the north, on what would have been the banks of this ancient river. Any deep excavations here would be of significant interest.
- Roots Hall Area including Victoria Avenue - Although part of this area may have been completely worked out as far as sand and gravel is concerned, there is still potential for the recovery of Palaeolithic archaeology and later Prehistoric archaeology. Discoveries of this type have been found here already, principally in the 1920s. In addition the medieval buildings between 255 and 279 Victoria Avenue, and nearby frontages and backlands, have the potential for preserving archaeological deposits relating to Prittlewell’s history as a medieval market town.
- Nazareth House - This stands on the site of the medieval manor house of Milton Hall. Although subsequent development may have destroyed all traces of the manor buildings, any opportunity to recover evidence of earlier occupation should be taken.
- Southend Cliffs - The interest in this area is mainly geological – the Cliffs at Southend are potentially a very rich source of Eocene fossils and could be of national importance.
253. Development within the areas of archaeological potential within the Central Area (as outlined above) must also have regard to the following policy:
New developments within Seaway Car Park, Roots Hall, Prittlewell, Nazareth House and Southend Cliffs will need to agree in writing with the LPA, a fully detailed analytical assessment and evaluation of archaeological significance of the site and a subsequent programme of archaeological works. These works must then be undertaken in accordance with the approved scheme at the appropriate stage in the development process. The results of the investigation formatted in accordance with an approved brief, must be submitted to the LPA. Policy HE7- Areas of Archaeological Potential in the Central Area
Further information about these monuments and details of the finds in the central area can be found in The Heritage for Southend Central Evidence Base Document and on the Councils Website.
National 254. All development affecting historic assets in the Central Area should also have regard to the following national and local guidance documents:
English Heritage Guidance on:
Conservation Area Appraisals and the Management of Conservation Areas (2005)
Retail Development in Historic Areas (2005)
Streets for All (East of England)(2005)
Shop fronts (1990)
Understanding Historic Buildings: A guide to Good Recording (2006)
Management of Research Projects in the Historic Environment (2006)
Application of Part L of the Building Regulations to Historic and Traditionally Constructed Buildings (2010) Local
SPD1: Design and Townscape Guide The Heritage for Southend Central Evidence Base Document
Conservation Area Character Appraisals
Southend Streetscape Manual (when published)
Stonebridge: An initial Assessment of Historic Landscape Character (includes eastern half of the Borough)