Development & Conservation in Highfield
Before the Oakmount Triangle was granted conservation status, a developer purchased no 4 Leigh Road – a distinctive Arts and Crafts style house:
Its character features include the herringbone brickwork on the gable and the round window on the side, which has become part of our conservation logo.
The developers also bought the empty plot next to it and their intention was to demolish the house and build a block of flats or townhouses on the resulting large double plot.
Earlier applications include this 1996 proposal to replace 15 Oakmount Avenue:
Residents were quick to realise that the Triangle could end up like Winn Road and so we fought for conservation status. This was was granted in 2005.
So the developer at 4 Leigh Road was forced instead to keep the property intact, and instead of the multiple townhouse development to build a family home on the vacant plot next door, in a style fitting with the character of the Oakmount Triangle:
How does this stop me changing my garage doors or providing a driveway?
Actually, it doesn’t. All it means is that to do these things you need to apply for permission. The Article 4 conservation status is mainly intended to stop any possible large-scale development such as we see in Winn Road or Westwood Road, it is not there to stop householders improving their properties provided there is no harm to the character of the area.
We are aware times change, and conservation doesn’t mean we have to preserve everything in aspic. However it is the classic features such as the original walls, with their distinctive recessed panels, dentilated brick course and chamferred coping, which enhance the street scene. Along with the mature front gardens, such features are a part of our argument in favour of conservation status and loss of a garden to provide a carpark is something that we believe should be controlled.
Many of the walls, especially at the sides of properties, had a very distinctive bond pattern known as “rat trap,” which was cheaper to build at the time. These are now especially valued due to the rarity of this type of wall.
However please don’t assume that we would object to, or that the City Council would refuse, any appropriate alteration. There have been cases where both we and the council have supported changes especially when they preserve or actually enhance the look. We are very happy to provide guidance.
But the total demolition of one of these original walls to create a carpark could encourage others to do the same so gradual erosion of the character of the area could lead to front gardens being replaced by hard standing car parks:
However much we may want more off-road parking, we would no doubt lose our conservation status if the character was to be eroded to such an extent.
And if we lose conservation status we could very soon end up like Winn Road:
Please support OTRA and keep the character of our friendly neighbourhood.