19 June 2018
More than 200 cast historic iron lamp columns in Reading will be refurbished and retained following a recent survey of historic lamp posts across the borough. RBC Council News
Preservation is one of our key aims and CADRA works with other groups across Reading, to try and address areas of deterioration.
We sit on and helped establish the Conservation Area Advisory Committee (CAAC), which advises RBC on conservation matters and plays a large part in reviewing Reading's conservation areas.
Information on the 15 Conservation Areas in Reading can be found at: Conservation areas
Each area should be appraised every five years to ensure that they reflect the up to date situation and are continuing to do the job they are designed for – to protect areas ‘the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’. Many are out of date. CADRA has been working with other groups across Reading to try and address the deterioration in many Conservation Areas.
In 2015 Reading Civic Society, along with the Baker Street Area Neighbourhood Association , CADRA , The Friends of Caversham Court Gardens and other Neighbourhood Action Groups started to work with Reading Borough Council to establish a basis by which the existing Conservation Area Appraisals could be progressively updated. The aim was also to examine how to enhance what we have and how to arrest deterioration. Historic England has provided advice and guidance.
The Strategic, Environment, Planning and Transport Committee (SEPT) of Reading Borough Council in April 2016 endorsed the CAAC being set up. The first meeting was held on 19 May 2016.
The CAAC is an autonomous advisory body. The aims for the first year included:
A major long-term task of the CAAC is to review and update the appraisals that justify all 15 Conservation Areas, two of which - St Peters and Surley Row - lie north of the river.
Community-led appraisals will involve local people in assessing their CAs. Once a series of stages have been successfully completed the new appraisals will be formally adopted by Reading Borough Council and they will inform local planning decisions. The first Reading Conservation Areas to begin their community–led appraisals were the Russell Street & Castle Hill CA, a large densely populated CA experiencing many of the problems of multiple occupation and inner city living, and St Peters in Caversham.
The community led St Peters Conservation Area Appraisal paper into the St Peters Conservation Area, including the extension was approved by Reading Borough Council’s Strategic Environment Planning and Transport Committee on 21st November 2018.
Reading Borough Council's nine week public consultation on the updated St Peters Conservation Area Appraisal that includes a proposed extension to the boundary of the Conservation Area ended on 14th September 2018.
The results are then presented and considered by the Council’s Strategic Environment Planning and Transport Committee for formal adoption and designation.
The Council is required to periodically review the town’s conservation areas and their associated appraisals, in order to ensure appropriate protection of areas of special architectural or historic interest. St Peters Conservation Area was formally designated in 1988 and an appraisal published in 2009.
The appraisal has been reviewed by the local community, led by CADRA, with assistance from the Reading Conservation Area Advisory Committee, Historic England and Reading Borough Council. As a result of this review and update of the appraisal, the Council is proposing an extension to the existing Conservation Area (Proposed boundary map).
We are sought comments over the nine weeks of the public consultation. The full updated St Peters Conservation Area Appraisal is on the Council’s website at: St Peters Consultation. Copies were also available for viewing at the Caversham Library (during normal opening hours). Supporting documents, such as detailed plans showing the proposed boundary and an information sheet were also available online and at the library.
The CADRA and Reading Conservation Area Advisory Committee hosted a stand at the Caversham Church Fete at Caversham Court Gardens on Saturday 14th July. Their representatives were available at the Fete to discuss the proposed boundary extension to the conservation area and the updated St Peters Conservation Area Appraisal.
The November 2017 draft appraisal was amended following detailed discussion with officers at RBC, who provided assistance in producing the maps. A Foreword from Councillor Tony Page was added. The appraisal was presented to and accepted by the RBC Strategic Environment Planning and Transport Committee on 2 July 2018. A period of statutory consultation on behalf of RBC will now be launched.
RBC responded to the Draft Appraisal and set out a programme and method for approving community led appraisals together with some detailed comments and suggestions on the St Peters appraisal itself.
The St Peters appraisal is effectively acting as a pilot for other appraisals in Reading which are now underway. On February 22nd , Planning Officers from RBC and CAAC members undertook a walkabout in the Conservation Area principally to look at the proposed extensions to the area and the proposed Buildings of Townscape Merit now set out in the draft appraisal.
There was broad agreement on both.
The formal agreement programme set out by the Council has several stages, the immediate next steps are for the CAAC to now agree a final draft of the Appraisal with Planning Officers which will go before Councillors at the Strategic Environment Planning and Transport Committee in July this year.
There is then a further statutory consultation period and other formal processes. It is hoped that the new Appraisal will have been adopted by the Council by the end of 2018.
See the Document and Resources section, which includes a wealth of information and research that went into the preparation of the document.
The results of the community consultation (Jul to Aug 2018) on the St Peters appraisal were very positive. Over 160 responses to our questionnaire were received and these overwhelmingly supported the proposals in the Appraisal, in particular 98% of respondents were in agreement with extending the boundaries of the Conservation Area to include the Church St/ Bridge St junction, the whole of Bridge St, and Caversham Bridge itself. Following some minor editing and the addition of the consultation results the document was approved by the Conservation Area Advisory Committee at their December 2017 meeting and subsequently forwarded to Reading Borough Council for their consideration.
The Draft Appraisal was launched at St Peters Church Fete on Saturday 8th July 2017. The consultation period ran from July 8th to August 19th.
Two copies were available in Caversham Library during the consultation period. A consultation leaflet with some simple questions could be returned to Waltons Jewellers on Prospect Street, who kindly agreed to collect the completed forms. The consulation form could also be completed online and comments could be emailed or posted to CADRA.
The publicity for the launch stressed that this was the main chance for the public to comment on the document and also that it would be important to able to show that the appraisal has public support.
The results of the consultation were that there was an extremely high level of support for the appraisal and the ideas it put forward.
In July 2016 a launch event for the appraisal was held in St Peters Church. 28 volunteers heard two presentations one of the history of the area and one on the Oxford Toolkit. They then walked parts of the area to identify features of importance as well as things that detracted from the area, using the Oxford Toolkit to record information contributing to a Character Assessment.
A key proposal was to extend the Conservation Area to include the Church Street/ Church Road/ Bridge Street junction, Bridge Street, and Caversham Bridge.
As part of the exercise, historical maps, photographs and other information were gathered. People living locally were encouraged to contribute information about individual buildings or about the conservation area in general.
A paper on Protecting and enhancing Conservation Area, prepared by community groups across Reading, was presented to the Strategic Environment, Planning & Transport Committee on 24 November 2015.
In anticaption of the planned work to review the St Peters Conservation Area CADRA presented a paper on the issues within the conservation area.
Historic England has a statutory role to give expert, constructive advice to owners, local authorities and the public, and to champion the wider historic environment. (English Heritage – now an independent charity – manages heritage sites and buildings.) Historic England have recently been advising both the Council and community volunteers. In April 2016 they organised training in Reading for local volunteers to teach them how to do appraisals of Conservation Areas using a The Oxford Toolkit to analyse the characteristics of an area.
Historic England were clear that the appraisal process should include local involvement and should capture local views on what makes the area special and distinctive. They issued this revised guidance February 2019:
The documents produced and the resources used on this project provide some useful background information:
St Peters Conservation Area Appraisal
The Chilterns Conservation Board is an independent statutory body which was established by Parliament in 2004 to conserve and promote the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
The Chilterns lie on Caversham’s doorstep: their woodland, hills, views, chalk streams and history provide a huge recreational asset for all of us, as well as a rich and diverse habitat. But such a lovely area so close to London is under huge development pressure, not only from housing but from big infrastructure projects like HS2.