Conservation area changes in spotlight

RESIDENTS and businesses are to be consulted over plans to protect a neighbourhood’s conservation area.

Hartlepool Borough Council has produced a draft management plan for Stranton Conservation Area.

It aims to preserve the key features that mark the area out as special by making sure developments and alterations to buildings do not detract from the area.

Mayor Stuart Drummond approved a request to take the draft document out to public consultation in his role as portfolio holder for regeneration and neighbourhoods.

A report by Denise Ogden, assistant director of neighbourhood services, said: “Change in a conservation area is inevitable and the purpose of a management plan is to direct this change in such a way that it strengthens rather than undermines the conservation area’s special quality.”

An appraisal carried out two years ago identified a variety of issues which are affecting the quality of the conservation area.

They included poor maintenance of buildings, unsympathetic alterations and the loss of traditional architectural details, and poor quality shop fronts and signage.

Action has been taken to address building maintenance and unsympathetic shop front alterations.

And a £346,300 New Deal for Communities grant was awarded to improve the conservation area’s appearance.

Ms Ogden said the work has done much to enhance the conservation area by restoring shop fronts and enhancing public areas.

But there is still room for further improvements, says the council.

There is a number of vacant properties in the area. A small grants scheme for building maintenance could be a catalyst for future improvements as seen in the Church Street Conservation Area.

The council is proposing to provide information to shop owners about traditional shop front designs and use its planning powers to minimise inappropriate alterations.

Work has already been carried out to public areas including pavement works and investment in Stranton Garth.

The council hopes future areas will benefit form similar investment.

The draft management plan will go on the council’s website for people to comment.

Ms Ogden added: “This is a small conservation area therefore where possible businesses and property owners will be approached directly with a copy of the document and a questionnaire to provide any comments that they may have on the area.”