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West Littleton Conservation Area

Introduction

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.

West Littleton was designated a conservation area on the 13th March 1992. 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.

Policy context

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.

Setting

West Littleton is a small village located to the North West of Marshfield on rising ground. It has many typical characteristics of Cotswold Villages with many buildings and walls built of Cotswold stone (see figures 1 to 6), and stone tiles roofs (see figures 7 to 9). The buildings are arranged around the common in a dispersed pattern giving a sense of openness and space within the centre (see figures 10 and 11). The southern more recent part of the village however takes on a more linear closed character with buildings located on or near the roadside (see figure 12).

Photo showing Examples of stone walls and buildings in West Littleton
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Figures 1 to 6: Examples of stone walls and buildings in West Littleton
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Figures 7 to 9: Examples of stone tile roofs in West Littleton
Figure 10: Looking west over the common to Church Farm

Figure 10: Looking west over the common to Church Farm

Figure 11: Looking south over the common from Old School House

Figure 11: Looking south over the common from Old School House

Figure 12: Buildings to the north of West Littleton set close to the roadside

Figure 12: Buildings to the north of West Littleton set close to the roadside

History

There are a number of interesting buildings in the village, all of which contribute to the individual character of West Littleton. The most striking of these buildings is that of the Old Manor House. It is set back from the road, ‘U’ plan in design with 3 small gables. It is thought to have been built by John Baldwin around 1500 and is of limestone rubble with stone tiles roof (see figure 13). In places the walls are two feet thick. Other buildings of interest include Manor Farm (see figure 14), Home Farm (see figure 15), Church Farm (see figure 16), and associated farm buildings. The farm houses date from around the 17th Century and are all of limestone rubble with stone tiled roofs. An interesting feature of the stables to the rear of Home Farm is the key hole shaped loading door under the eaves.

Figure 13: Old Manor House

Figure 13: Old Manor House

Figure 14: Manor Farm

Figure 14: Manor Farm

Figure 15: Home Farm

Figure 15: Home Farm

Figure 16: Church Farm

Figure 16: Church Farm

The Church of St. James is small in scale and originated in the 13th century. It was rebuilt in 1855 by T.H.Wyatt and has a striking bell tower (see figures 17 and 18).
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Figure 17 and 18. The Church of St. James and Bell tower
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Circa 1880 Ordnance Survey map West Littleton

Circa 1880 Ordnance Survey map West Littleton

Character

All the buildings within the village add to the character of the area. The houses on the northern boundary of the town, although not listed are all individual in design and add visual interest to the village. Furthermore, buildings such as the Old School House (see figures 19 and 20) add variety being of an unusual design and single storey. The rising hills northwards provide a pastoral backdrop to the village scene (see figures 21 and 22).

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Figures 19 and 20: Old School House
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Figures 21 and 22: Backdrop of hills looking north of West Littleton
As one enters the village from the north via Dunsdown Lane the initial impression of the village is one of openness and dispersal, with no buildings providing a visual centre to the village. The common land provides a nucleus to the village with the buildings arranged around the outer edges of the common (see figures 23 and 24).
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Figures 23 and 24: Buildings arranged around the outer edges of the common
The openness is further enhanced by the varying ground level which changes abruptly as one travels through the village southwards. As the land rises, building lines come right up to the roadside giving a sense of enclosure further accentuated by the stone walls, mature trees and hedges that line the road (see figure 25).
The barn of Home Farm clearly illustrates this effect. The road curved gently upwards and provides interesting glimpses as one travels further on, adding to the visual interest of the village (see figure 26). The building line is softened by small expanses of grass verge that line the entire length of the roadside.
Figure 25: Looking southwards on Dunddown Lane - Stone walls and building lines close to the roadside

Figure 25: Looking southwards on Dunsdown Lane – Stone walls and building lines close to the roadside

Figure 26: Looking southwards on Dunddown Lane - Barn of Home Farm following topography of ground level.

Figure 26: Looking southwards on Dunsdown Lane – Barn of Home Farm following topography of ground level.

Summary map

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Contacts

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:

Conservation Officer
Strategic Planning Policy and Specialist Advice Team
South Gloucestershire Council
PO Box 2081
South Gloucestershire
BS35 9BP

Telephone: 01454 863578
Email: conservation@southglos.gov.uk