The draft local list is live!

21 Jan 2010

Please look through the list and comment on anything you see there by using the 'contact us' page on the website (on the menu). Let us know if you think we have got something wrong or if there is something you think we should add to our descriptions. You can nominate buildings which you think we have missed and ought to be on the list or you can point out others that we have included that you think should not be there. You have until the end of February to do this at which time the period of consultation will end. The draft local list will then be removed and the forum will meet to review suggestions and amend the list accordingly. A few more buildings will be added to the list by the forum at this stage and the final draft list will be given to the Borough Council. The Council will review the list and then consult with all the property-owners/residents on the final version by letter before formally adopting their final version of the list.
    Note that, although the list is complete, more data (including the completion of the coded justifications) will be added between now and the start of February when the formal consultation period begins. But please comment now if you want to do so.


Why a list and what are the implications?
Karen Syrett, Spatial Policy Manager for Colchester Borough Council, set out the reasons for the list and its implications in her contribution to the launch of the completed draft local list on January 19th. The text of her talk can be read here. Councillor Chris Hall, the Borough Council's Heritage Champion, opened the meeting and spoke about the way Colchester had changed over the years and the value and importance of retaining its key buildings. His text can be read here.
    Compilation of the local list is not just about identifying valuable or significant buildings, but also about trying to preserve what makes Colchester different to everywhere else. For this reason, the contribution a building can make to the townscape as one of a group can be significant and explains why some buildings are included in the draft local list which might otherwise have been omitted.


'Listed' buildings
Some of Colchester's buildings are protected by being listed. All the buildings listed in England and Wales, including the ones in Colchester, can be found on English Heritage's Images of England website (see also Heritage Gateway). The listed buildings have been included on our site so as to show which buildings are already protected. The descriptions which appear in each of the entries were kindly provided by the National Monuments Record at Swindon and are the most up-to-date versions available. The listings were made many years ago and are therefore out of date in places. We have not attempted to update the list yet but there are some additional comments added on a piecemeal basis in square brackets at the end of a some of the entries.
    Buildings which are listed are those which are judged by central government to be of national importance. These include all buildings which predate 1700 and are in a good or restorable condition as well as most buildings which date to between 1700-1840. Some buildings which are later than 1840 have been listed but they must be perfectly intact and of the highest architectural order.


Choosing buildings for the local list
Buildings on the draft local list are those which are suggested to be of local importance rather than national. Buildings have been included on the list if they are not already 'listed' and at least one of the following criteria apply:

  1. The building is earlier than 1840 and is in good or restorable condition.
  2. The building dates to between 1840-1945 and is largely complete plus is of an architectural and/or historic value which rises from 'good' for the oldest buildings to 'very high' for the younger ones in the date range.
  3. The building was built after 1945 and is complete with no inappropriate alterations or extensions plus is of highest architectural or historic value.
  4. The building has group or skyline value.

Various additional factors have been taken into account during the selection process. They are not sufficient in their own right or in combination to justify inclusion in the list but they have been used to tip the balance in marginal cases. They are as follows: historic value, iconic value, contribution to the historic character of the area in which it stands, prominence in the townscape or landscape, quirkiness, rarity in Colchester terms, and sustainability (i.e. the building is realistically capable of reuse).


How to use the draft local list
Select 'buildings in draft local list' from the menu at the top of any page to go to the draft local list gallery. Here you can look at the buildings either street by street or all at once by choosing 'Any' from the top of the drop-down menu of street names. Click on the thumbnail image once if you want to see a bigger version of it.
You can also search the site using the search box in the top right-hand corner of each page. From here, you can also access the advanced search page for more search options.
You can also access the data for many of the buildings using the zoomable map accessible via the menu at the top of each page. Not all the buildings have been plotted on the map but they will be in time.
    When you get into the descriptions of the buildings, you will find at the foot of each of them why that particular building was included in the draft local list. The justifications are expressed as a date (which will point to the first three criteria above) and a series of codes which indicate which additional factors apply. The codes are as follows:

Architectural value

A++ very high
A+ good
T-F timber-framed (ie C18 or earlier)
?T-F ?timber-framed (needs investigation)

Historic value

H++
H+

Condition

C++ complete with no inappropriate alterations/extensions
C+ condition: largely complete
C condition: good or restorable

Others

I iconic value
H contribution to the historic character of the area in which it stands
P prominence
Q quirkiness
R local rarity
Su sustainability

'Jaggers' list'
A few years ago, the Borough Council commissioned Mansell Jaggers to undertake a review of the town-centre conservation area. As part of this study, he identified a number of unlisted buildings and he judged that it "would be a good idea to make a 'Local List' of these buildings, with a brief description and photographic record. This would prove useful in considering any future proposals for these buildings, particularly for alterations that might affect their character." Mansell Jaggers' list was taken as the starting point for the current selection. His selections are identified in our list by the words 'Jaggers' list'. Mansell's study was completed in 2007 and can be downloaded from here.

Proposed new conservation area and more buildings for the draft local list
Colchester began seriously to spill out of its walled area in the early Victorian period when terraces of two-up, two-down houses were first built in number on land that had previously been open. These were the houses for the common man and the sorts of buildings that are not often 'listed'. The establishment of the Colchester Garrison in the mid 1850s sped up the process whereby the built-up part of the town gradually crept outwards in a way it had not done so before. These 'extra-mural' developments of circa 1840-60 occurred in Priory Street (especially the north side - demolished many years ago), the Chapel Street/West Street area, Brook Street, and the north end of Albert Street. Once started, this process has never stopped with new streets and buildings being laid out further and further out from the town centre.
    Colchester's high number of Victorian buildings poses a problem of selection as far as the local list is concerned. None of the earliest of these extra-mural developments have fared particularly well over the years. Plastic replacement windows of inappropriate design are common. Roofs have been changed, outside walls rendered and/or painted, most front doors have long since been replaced, and original boundary walls removed. The one feature which has survived the best are the diminutive and visually-attractive porches which characterises these early workers' homes. These were the cheapest versions of the grander porches which adorned the more expensive houses where a deep and effective roof (a canopy) was supported by free-standing flanking columns all designed in a classical style. Preservation as far as possible of some of these early 'porched' Victorian two-up two-down buildings is an objective worth pursuing despite their condition because of their association with early Victorian Colchester and the start of its rapid growth into the town it is today.
    On the other hand, mid and late Victorian houses for the masses (including the middle classes) are better preserved. Fine examples can be found inside the town wall in the Roman Road/Castle Road area as well as outside. To protect some buildings of this key era in Colchester's history, we are suggesting that a new conservation area be established which would cover a sequence of developments laid out street by street throughout the Victorian and Edwardian periods. The limits and extent of this proposed conservation area can be seen here. At the north end, closest to the walled part of the town, is the Chapel Street/West Street/South Street west area which was laid out around 1842 and was in effect Colchester's first extra-mural estate. Moving southwards (broadly) and getting progressively later in date are Alexandra Road (1870s) and Alexandra Terrace (between 1875 and 1895), Cedars Road (formerly Gilberd Road/South Street East (between 1886 and 1905). Beaconsfield Avenue (1890-1894+), Salisbury Avenue (1891-95), Wickham Road (1899-1902+), Errington Road (1901-5+), Hamilton Road (1902-3+), and Constantine Road (1905-6+).
    All the buildings within the proposed new conservation area are being nominated for the local list. So too are all the buildings within the New Town conservation area (see here for a map). This is because of their intrinsic historical significance individually and as parts of complete streets.