A large area of the town centre near Derngate will remain as a ‘conservation area’, but new buildings such as One Angel Square and the Premier Inn won’t be included.
The Derngate Conservation Area is one of 21 such areas in Northampton, and was designated that status in 1986. It includes buildings in Derngate and Fish Street, and in 2006 was extended to include Guildhall Road, Hazelwood Road and part of St Giles’ Street.
But a request to extend the area and include buildings such as One Angel Square – the Northamptonshire County Council headquarters – and St John’s Hall of Residence as examples of ‘modern architecture’ has been rejected, as it was felt they would ‘dilute’ the current heritage area.
Northampton Borough Council has to periodically review conservation areas to ensure that they still justify their special status and look at whether boundary revisions are necessary. Becoming a designated conservation area helps to maintain ‘special character and quality’ by introducing controls over the way owners can alter or develop their properties.
The decision was made by the borough council’s cabinet on Wednesday (June 12) to retain the conservation area, but not extend its boundaries.
Deputy cabinet member for planning, Councillor James Hill, said: “This report is part of our statutory duties where we have to address all our conservation areas. It highlights some of the great architecture we have this part of the town.
“We did have a request to include St John’s car park and the Premier Inn, but it was felt it might dilute the conservation area if it were to be included.”
The council agenda papers go into more detail about why the extra inclusions should not be accepted, stating: “The Town Centre Conservation Committee suggested a further extension to the south-west to incorporate St John’s Street and along Victoria Promenade to the Plough Hotel – thereby including St John’s Hall of Residence and One Angel Square as examples of modern architecture and several other buildings of local interest, such as Swiss Cottage and railway worker’s houses at Victoria Gardens.
“The suggestion has been considered by officers but the conclusion is that the historic character and appearance that defines Derngate Conservation Area would be diluted by including areas of lesser historic interest or, in the case of Victoria Gardens, properties that have previously been extensively altered.”
Public consultation on the draft re-appraisal was held over January and February earlier this year, and although public response was low, the majority supported the continuation of the conservation area.
Speaking at cabinet, Labour councillor Jane Birch added: “It’s always good to see something like this coming up. Local residents start to appreciate a little bit more of the positive things we have in our heritage. Well done to everyone who has put this together.”