Horton Conservation Area
A conservation area is an area of ‘special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’. Once designated, the local planning authority has a statutory duty to ensure that any proposed development will preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the conservation area and its setting.
Horton was designated a conservation area on the 24th April 1985. A Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) appraisal leaflet was published following the conservation areas designation. This document is not a review of such, but sets out the information as produced in an accessible format supported by current policy context, pictures and mapping.
Local authorities have had the ability to designate locations of ‘special architectural or historic interest’ as conservation areas since 1967 when introduced as part of the Civic Amenities Act. Section 69 (2) of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation) Act 1990 legislates that authorities are to carry out reviews of existing conservation areas from ‘time to time’. Section 72 also states that ‘special attention shall be paid to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of that area’. Guidance on conservation area appraisals and the management of conservation areas is produced by Heritage England.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out national planning policy and must be taken into account in the preparation of local and neighbourhood plans, and is a material consideration in planning decisions. The NPPF defines conservation areas as ‘Heritage Assets’ and sets out in Para 126 that local authorities should ‘recognise that heritage assets are an irreplaceable resource and should conserve them in a manner appropriate to their significance’. Para 127 states that when designating conservation areas local planning authorities should ensure the area justifies this status because of its special architectural or historic interest.
South Gloucestershire has 31 conservation areas, and there are a number of policies within the Council’s Local Plan documents that are relevant. South Gloucestershire Local Plan 2006 saved policy L12 requires development within or affecting the conservation area to preserve or enhance its character or appearance. Further to this, policy L13 states that development affecting the setting of a Listed Building will not be permitted unless ‘the building and its setting would be preserved’. South Gloucestershire Core Strategy 2006-2027 sets out in CS9 that the ‘natural and historic environment is a finite and irreplaceable resource’, and expects that new development will conserve, respect and enhance heritage assets.
The emerging Polices, Sites and Places (PSP) Plan policy PSP18 states that development should ‘serve to protect, and where appropriate, enhance or better reveal the significance of heritage assets and their setting’ and ‘development within their [listed buildings] setting will be expected to preserve and, where appropriate enhance…their special architectural or historic interest’. It should be noted the PSP Plan is currently a material consideration and at this time very limited weight is given to policies.
The ‘old’ settlement of Horton lies to the north east of the existing hillside village, it nestles below the Cotswold escarpment near the Iron Age hill fort known as ‘The Castles’. Within the settlement a number of fine listed buildings including Horton Court and the Parish Church of St James provide a picturesque focal point within the conservation area, further enhanced by the expanse of woodland (see figure 1) to the east and the surrounding open fields (see figure 2) which are traversed by several footpaths including the Cotswold Way.
The Parish Church of St James (See figure 3) is 12th century in origin and predominately perpendicular in style. It was rebuilt in the 14th century and altered in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was further restored in 1865. The Church still retains a Norman fort and Jacobean pulpit (see figure 4). The Churchyard contains a good collection of 18th century local and classical chest tombs, contributing greatly to the setting of the Church.
About 1125 Agnes and Hubert de la Rye gave their estate to the Cathedral of Salisbury and thus is became one of the prebendal estates. Historically, Horton was one of the parishes that gained the title of Golden Prebend. The first known holder of the Horton Prebend was Robert De Beaufeu c1140, and it is thought that he or his successor built the earliest element of the existing house, the Norman Hall mentioned above.
The Hall is a one storey building, the north and south doorways (See figure 7) being original and the timbered roof of 14th century origin. In the 18th century the Hall was divided horizontally into two and the upper floor made into a Roman Catholic Chapel. It was restored to a single room at the end of the 19th century.
William Knight was prebendary of Horton from 1517 until his appointment as Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1541. He presented Henry VIII’s case for divorce from Catherine of Aragon to the Pope in 1527. His foreign tours, especially to Rome, made him familiar with Renaissance architecture and this is reflected in his work at Horton Court. The entrance door case is flanked by bands of arabesque work suggesting a classical entablature with an interesting frieze providing a magnificent entranceway. Inside the Manor the Renaissance flavour is continued. The hall’s chimney piece has fluted Corinthian columns supporting a flat lintel decorated with mermaids and Knights’ Coat of Arms. These features are some of the earliest Renaissance details in any English country house. Horton Court is now owned by the National Trust.
The garden is also noteworthy having a six bay arcaded loggia or ambulatory (see figure 8), dating from 1527-29. It is Gothic in form but its conception derives directly from the Italian Renaissance gardens as observed by Knight, further emphasised by the existence of four plaques decorated with the heads of Roman Emperors.
This small settlement, nestling below the Cotswold escarpment, is highly picturesque in its setting. Entering from the south the view as one reaches the brow of the hill is superb both westwards (see figure 11) towards the Severn, and directly southwards onto the village (see figure 12).
The council is keen to work with the local community and other parties to help preserve and enhance this special area. If you wish to assist in any manner or have any further suggestions, please let us know.
For further information or advice please contact:
Strategic Planning Policy and Specialist Advice Team
South Gloucestershire Council
PO Box 2081
Telephone: 01454 863578