Sneinton's Conservation areas are officially "At Risk" and in a "Very Bad" condition... but maybe it's not all bad news

There are nearly 10,000 Conservation Areas across England and just 502 of these (about 5%) are considered "At Risk" by Historic England. Unfortunately both of Sneinton's Conservation Areas fall in to this category- meaning that the heritage value is in danger of being lost due to neglect, decay or inappropriate development.

Above: Sneinton Market and Old Sneinton Conservation Areas- both "At Risk"

Why should we care?

The benefits of living in a Conservation Area include the quality of the environment, which is generally better maintained due to stricter controls over what can be built. Particularly in large and long-established Conservation Areas, house prices tend to be higher which reflects the attraction of an improved quality of the environment and the likelihood that the area remain stable over time. Generally, Conservation Areas tend to match peoples' strong positive values associated with green, peaceful residential areas. This can create a good sense of community, and a distinctive sense of place which can be good for community cohesion. These positive effects can spread to areas adjacent to a conservation area as well.

On the other hand, living in a Conservation Area can come with some restrictions- basically peoples' property rights are taken away by stricter planning controls, so they have less choice when it comes to altering their property or building new developments. This can make new development less viable, potentially limiting business opportunities and the provision of services and housing.

The benefits of an "At Risk" Conservation Area are more likely to be outweighed by the disadvantages- the restrictions remain whilst the positive aspects are reduced by neglect, decay or inappropriate development. The good news is that the Sneinton Market Conservation Area is said to be "improving significantly" whilst Old Sneinton is "improving". This is a turn around from the 2015 At Risk Register- when both areas were designated as "deteriorating".

What can be done?

It is important that we try to move Sneinton's Conservation Areas out of this limbo state. Removal of the "At Risk" status requires there to be significant positive changes AND a plan by the Local Authority created to manage the area and implement improvements. If these changes are not forthcoming then at some point we need to ask the question- are our Conservation Areas worth having?

Sources

2015 East Midlands At Risk Register

2018 East Midlands At Risk Register

An Assessment of the Effect of Conservation Areas on Value

Notitngham Post: At Risk Heritage in Notts

Map of Nottingham Conservation Areas



Burrows Court- New housing plans at the base of the Sneinton's landmark tower block

Back in 2016 we wrote about the long and troubled history of Burrows Court in Sneinton, which sits within our Neighbourhood Plan area.

Built in 1967, 21 stories high on a hilltop site and containing 130 flats... Burrows Court on Windmill Lane is by far Sneinton's most prominent building. And yet it has stood empty for over a decade, passed through a series of owners' hands, become an eyesore and a thorn in the side of local residents and hosted fires, squatters, urban explorers and even featured in a gruesome murder case. Read more from our 2016 story...

Since then, property developer Stace LLP have taken on the site, and in 2018 put forward a planning application to build a language centre, 40 additional flats (adding to the 130 flats in the refurbished tower) and around 20 new houses on the land surrounding the tower. Nottingham Post article on the 2018 plans

View of the 2018 proposals

The 2018 application was never decided, and now the developer has put forward revised plans, removing the language centre and adding more houses. Nottingham Post article on the 2019 plans

You can view the plans and make comments: Link to the detailed planning application on the Council's website

Leave your comments below if you'd like them to be considered as part of the Sneinton Neighbourhood Forum's response to the plans.








We value our parks, but are they forever?

Time and again in consultations and interviews in Sneinton the subject of parks and open space comes up. Usually, people tell us that there is not enough open space around Sneinton, but what we have (for example, King Edward's Park, the Windmill Park, Trickett's Park and Colwick Woods) is greatly appreciated. In our visions of the future, trees, gardens, grass, public space and and green space are often desired.

Above: Word cloud of resident's visions, collected during the Sneinton Vision project.

If you take a look at the Sneinton Neighbourhood Plan area, there is actually a fair amount of green space around the neighbourhood, but it tends to be difficult to access and lumped together at the edges of Sneinton, rather than evenly distributed throughout. The Mounts, located just off Sneinton Dale, are relatively unknown and have in the last few years been largely fenced off. Colwick Woods, just yards from the top of Sneinton Boulevard, and the end of Colwick Road, are only accessible from a couple of relatively hidden points. The Friends of Colwick Woods (a Forum member organisation) have been working hard to try to get the access to the woods improved.

Above: Sneinton Neighbourhood Plan area: Surprisingly green

As 'austerity' cuts bite ever deeper, many people are unaware that parks have no protected status, and councils can dispose of 'informal recreation space' without having a duty to consult.

"Unlike education or libraries, parks are a discretionary service which councils have no statutory duty to provide... All local authorities have to make tough decisions over funding and the temptation for cash-strapped councils to auction off assets is significant; not only to generate immediate income, but also remove a longer term maintenance liability."(1)

But there are alternatives. Some councils are recognising the value of parks and protecting them as "Fields in Trust", giving them protected status:

"Edinburgh Council has estimated that for every £1 spent on green infrastructure, around £12 of social, economic and environmental benefits are delivered through the community use of parks and green spaces. Earlier this year Glasgow Council dedicated 27 sites across the city with Fields in Trust – securing forever these playgrounds and parks as recreational space. The council’s open spaces strategy recognises the health, wellbeing and play benefits green space provides and have committed to its upkeep forever." (1)

In Halifax, Yorkshire, a "Healthy Living Park" initiative has been launched, to recognise the role that parks play in keeping us healthy, and to encourage positive use. Would this work in Sneinton? And could we encourage our Council to protect our parks with "Deeds of Dedication... a legally binding document which means each Field is protected for future generations to enjoy." (2)?



References:
(1) New Start: What is the value of a park? http://newstartmag.co.uk/articles/what-is-the-value-of-a-park/
(2) Fields in Trust: http://www.fieldsintrust.org


Update: Research project underway

Eighteen Architecture students from Nottingham Trent University are conducting a research project in Sneinton. They have completed hundreds of observations on 'transect walks' across the area. Around 2o interviews have also been conducted with local residents and workers. 

The results are being brought together through an online map. This will be published at the end of the project, and used as evidence for the Neighbourhood Plan.

Sneinton Neighbourhood Forum members and locals have been very generous with their time. Following our appeal for help, several have already come forward to take part in the research. Their local knowledge has been invaluable to the researchers. 

If you would like to take part in this research, please get in touch with Tom Hughes*:

Phone/text 07751958003 or email tom.hughes@ntu.ac.uk

*(SNF board member and NTU senior lecturer)


Can you lend your local knowledge to contribute to our Neighbourhood Plan?

Forum members and friends are invited to help:

Sneinton residents and people who work in the area are being invited to join a group from Nottingham Trent University as they help the Forum research the area. The info they gather will add to the case for our Neighbourhood Plan:

 "We are a group of students at Nottingham Trent University who, under the guidance of Tom Hughes, are undertaking a research project to aid in the preparation of your Sneinton Neighbourhood Plan. We are going to be looking specifically at the topic of People, Power and Planning within the local community.

 "As primary research we are going to do a series of walks across Sneinton, this in our view being the best way to get to know the area and get a sense of what it is like to live in Sneinton. We will be asking local residents and passers-by some questions and we would like to invite any of your members to join us on the walk, to help us learn about the area and to point things out to us along the way. 

"If the idea of a walk doesn’t appeal to all, a simple chat at a nearby café would be much appreciated (Drinks are on us!)

 "We look forward to hearing back from you soon"

If you would like to take part in this research and help build the plan, please get in touch with Tom Hughes (SNF board member and NTU senior lecturer):

Phone 07751958003 or email tom.hughes@ntu.ac.uk

Thank you!