Tips for creating the perfect conservation sympathetic urban space
Look around most towns and cities in the UK and you will find examples of poor planning. Buildings of special architectural or historical significance overshadowed by concrete structures such as multi-story car parks and out-dated shopping malls.
In order to create urban spaces that are sympathetic to the special architectural and aesthetic qualities of the area it is important that we learn the lessons of the past. There are of course many examples where urban regeneration has preserved or even enhanced the surrounding area. Good preparation is the key to ensuring that urban spaces in conservation areas work for the communities who live in them.
Plan and Visualise
The planning stage is paramount when it comes to blending old with new. Edwardian and Victorian structures are often listed, however it is not enough to simply protect these buildings in isolation. For example tall buildings are unlikely to be sympathetic to their surroundings and can dominate a conservation area. Any planning applications submitted should always contain a detailed description of how it will relate to the area.
Demolition of unlisted buildings can sometimes help the character of an area, but in some cases it may diminish it. It is important that each case is considered on merit, for example what will the proposed development contribute to the area and how will it blend with its surroundings? Space between buildings, materials used, design and scale are all important factors when deciding on replacing old buildings with new.
It is important to remember that urban spaces are there for us all to enjoy, they are places where communities live, work and socialise and should not be treated as museum pieces. If an extension can be undertaken sensitively without destroying the character of the building then there is no reason it shouldn’t go ahead. Changing the use of a building can also bring economic benefits but again needs to be done sympathetically – keeping original features like windows and doors where possible.
Landscaping green open spaces brings beauty and environmental benefits to urban areas. Making improvements to paved areas and introducing street furniture that is in keeping with the area can also add real value.