The Conservation Subcommittee evolved from an informal group, which had come together in 2003 to investigate the possibility of getting Conservation Area status for the Oakmount Triangle. At a meeting of Southampton City Council’s Planning and Rights of Way Panel, at which an application for a development of town houses in Leigh Road was rejected, Cllr Alec Samuels had suggested that the Triangle could best protect its character by becoming a conservation area.
The working group approached the Council’s Conservation Officer, and began to collect the facts and figures about the Triangle which were needed for an application. In July 2004 an open meeting was held for all the Triangle’s residents, and there was overwhelming support for pursuing conservation status. A dossier containing a large body of historical and architectural information about the Triangle was presented to the Council in December 2004, and Conservation Area status was obtained in August 2005. Also in 2005, the informal working group became a Subcommittee of OTRA, to advise the Chair and Committee about conservation issues.
Download PDF: Character Appraisal & Management Plan
What is special about the Oakmount Triangle?
The Oakmount Triangle was developed from the grounds of Highfield House, which was built for Admiral Foote, a contemporary of Lord Nelson, in 1812. The estate, which borders Southampton Common, was bought by John Smith (1855-1926), a local builder and developer, and most of the houses, and two mansion blocks of flats, were built between 1911 and 1930.
Most were built by John Smith’s company, although some of those who bought plots of land used other builders.
Highfield House itself was demolished in 1924: only its Lodge, gateposts and part of the kitchen garden wall remain at the top of Oakmount Avenue. The Triangle has a coherent “feel” that is distinct from the modern houses in the Crofton Close estate to the north-east, and the apartment blocks of Winn Road to the south.
The Conservation Subcommittee meets approximately monthly to discuss recent planning applications and other conservation issues. Much of its effort in 2007 and 2008 has been to collaborate with SCC in producing a Character Appraisal and Design Statement, a detailed guide for both residents and developers as to the character of the Oakmount Triangle and how it may best be protected.
When it looks at planning applications, the Subcommittee considers these in the light of the Character Appraisal and Design Statement, and then sends its suggestions to the OTRA Committee, which then decides how it should respond to Southampton City Council. If an application appears to have a major impact on the Triangle, OTRA may email or leaflet all residents. The Subcommittee is always happy to talk to residents or developers about planning applications, either before or after the actual application is made. All actual decisions on planning are, however, made by the City Council.