‘Iconic’ Heybridge cottages turned into a conservation area

  Posted: 13.01.22 at 19:37 by Charlotte Lillywhite

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A group of historic concrete cottages in Heybridge has been turned into a conservation area, in efforts to restore the homes to their original condition.

The conservation area was approved by members of Maldon District Council’s strategy and resources committee on Thursday (6 January), and covers 116-156 Woodfield Cottages - three terraces of 41 single-storey cottages in Heybridge.

A local listed building order was also approved to grant automatic consent for selected enhancement opportunities on the homes.

Tim Howson, conservation officer at the council, said: “What we are doing here is quite pioneering.

“Very few other local authorities in the country have adopted local listed building consent orders and this would be the first of its type in East Anglia.”

He said the response to public consultation on the plans last year was “overwhelmingly positive”.

The cottages are of national architectural interest due to their pioneering use of mass-concrete construction.

They were developed by industrialist E H Bentall in 1873 as homes for staff of the Bentall Agricultural Works.

Although they were categorised as Grade II listed buildings in 1971, a report to councillors said they are “among the most challenging listed buildings in the Maldon district due to their relatively high degree of modernisation”.

It added: “Many of the later alterations – such as replacement windows, doors and porches – have eroded the architectural interest of the listed buildings and their character as a unified group of buildings.

“Some of the buildings are in a poor condition and one cottage - no. 127 - has fallen into a particularly dilapidated state.”

Praising the initiatives, Councillor Mark Durham said: “This particular part of Heybridge is pretty unique and I totally support that it should be preserved in as close to a condition as it was originally as possible.

“We need to prevent incongruous extensions and additions wherever possible - I know there are already some there but we have to live with what we’ve got.”

He added: “I totally support this because it is an iconic part of Heybridge as a village and it recognises the economic history of Heybridge and, indeed, of Maldon and the wider area.”

By designating the site a conservation area, the council may be able to enter into a conservation area partnership agreement with Historic England, which would make it eligible for grant funding to enhance the area.

This would be the first conservation area partnership scheme in the Maldon district for over fifteen years, and the first in Essex for seven years.

Mr Howson said: “I have a meeting with Historic England later this month to discuss what they might consider grant funding towards, and that may include public rail improvements as well as work to individual properties.”

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