Conservation status failing to protect registered parks & gardens

The Gardens Trust (GT) and County Gardens Trusts are dismayed by the outcome of three cases in just the past ten days where the planning system has lamentably failed to protect Registered Parks and Gardens, despite our formal objections to the proposed developments. Decisions that will detrimentally impact the heritage value of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal (Grade I and a World Heritage Site), Warmley Gardens (Grade II registered) and Newark Park (also Grade II) have demonstrated just how vulnerable and under-protected our Registered Parks and Gardens remain.

Fountains Abbey and Study Park

In North Yorkshire, developers had made an application to build 390 houses adjacent to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, a Grade I Registered Park and World Heritage Site. Last year this was refused planning permission by Harrogate District Council, following staunch objections from the GT, Yorkshire Gardens Trust and the NT. This decision was appealed by the developers and we were all dismayed to learn last week that the Secretary of State has upheld the appeal and approved the development (see story in the Yorkshire Post).

Warmley Gardens

Warmley Gardens is a Grade II listed registered park lying within the Warmley Conservation Area, which contains a Grade II* house, eight other listed structures, and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.  An application has been made to extend the already extensive mobile home park which covers the bed of the former lake, obstructing the large 18th century, Grade II-listed statue of Neptune, which can be seen towering above the mobile homes (left),  an important feature of the now sadly neglected grounds. South Gloucestershire did not notify the Gardens Trust about the application for the construction of eight additional hardstanding bases for caravans, but luckily we were alerted to it by the Avon Gardens Trust.

Unfortunately, in 1963 the local authority allowed a Certificate of Lawful Development, which did not include any restriction on the number of caravans.  The case went to appeal and the Inspector took the view that the Article 4 Direction could not override this and granted permission for the development. We are therefore having to live with a decision made over 50 years ago, when the heritage of parks and gardens was less well recognised. We hope that we will at least be able to influence the positioning of the new caravans so that they do not block access for the vehicles of volunteers from the Kingswood Museum who maintain the gardens.

Newark Park

At the Grade II-registered Newark Park, which lies within Cotswold District Council, pre-application consultations were held last year between the National Trust (NT) and Gardens Trust Conservation Officer Margie Hoffnung about proposals for a new play area.  We wrote expressing grave concerns to the National Trust about the location they had chosen, which is a particularly sensitive and tranquil area of the landscape near the summer house (pictured), lake, folly and pergola. Despite this, we were surprised to find that the National Trust submitted the application un-altered, and Cotswold have granted planning permission for the play area without consulting the Gardens Trust. While Cotswold District Council have apologised for their omission in not consulting us, it appears that there is little that can now be done.

And some good news…

Thankfully, there is also some good news on the conservation front. Following objections from Shropshire Gardens Trust and the GT, Shropshire Council have requested the re-design of an additional, rectangular fish stock pond proposed for Badger Dingle, a Grade II Registered Park, to blend with the existing more naturalistic lakes and fish ponds, together with the preparation of a Heritage Impact Assessment.

Alison Allighan & Margie Hoffnung

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Painswick Roccoco Gardens, the Red House, Photo © Joab Smith