Lauren Ayers & Georgia Foy
22 Mar 2019
Historic England (HE) has prepared draft guidance ‘Conserving Georgian and Victorian terraced housing: A guide to managing change’, and consultation on the guidance closed today, 22 March 2019. Lichfields has responded to the consultation, and we provide some comments and observations below.
Purpose and intended audience
When published, this guide will replace ‘London terrace houses 1660-1860: A guide to alterations and extensions’, first published by English Heritage (now HE) in 1996 and considered by many practitioners across the sector to have been an authoritative starting point for professional advice on alterations to listed town houses. It is very welcome that a publication which has been out of print for several years, is now being refreshed for the digital age.
The updated guidance is aimed at local authorities, homeowners and others involved in works to Georgian and Victorian terraced housing. It details what features are important to consider and provides a series of questions which function as prompts to help users consider which features contribute to terraced houses’ significance and how proposed works may affect significance. The guide covers the following:
The updated guidance is less specific than the 1996 guidance in terms of what repairs and alterations are likely to be acceptable in practice. As with the move from PPG15 to the NPPF in 2012, the new guidance adopts a principles-based approach where its predecessor dealt with specifics. This is fine for the professional, but one wonders whether homeowners may be disappointed not to find more specific advice, particularly if they are looking to carry out sensitive repairs or alterations themselves.
Time period: 1715-1900
The guidance notes that the period of houses at which the guidance is aimed is 1715 – c.1900. We welcome the inclusion of terraced houses from 1860-1900 in this guidance, as there are many examples of late Victorian and Edwardian terraced houses which are under-appreciated due to claims that their standardisation renders them of lesser architectural and historic interest.
The First World War formed a watershed, after which there was a move to lower density suburban housing in the form of Homes for Heroes and the garden city movement. These were seen as measures for achieving healthy living, in accordance with early town planning principles which expounded the benefits of lower densities.
Perhaps a bracket of up to c.1914 would appear to be a more logical approach for the guidance on terraced housing, as some towns outside of London—particularly those with high population pressures such as Plymouth and Portsmouth—continued to build terraced houses designed by local architects during the Edwardian period (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: The terraced houses along Burleigh Park Road in Plymouth were designed by Daniel Ward in 1906
Historic background and visual referencesThe guide provides a useful historic background section which provides a concise summary of the typology’s history. The document is currently a consultation draft and therefore omits images at this stage. The final version would benefit from images illustrating examples of the various periods to help homeowners identify where their building fits within this wider picture. It may also be helpful to include a section with images illustrating commonly installed inappropriate features, to aid well-meaning property owners in avoiding products which are inaccurately marketed as ‘traditional style’ (see Figure 2). The 1996 version of the guidance included axonometric projections of terraced houses, which were helpful to get to grips with the layers of significance in terraced houses. We hope they will be provided in the updated version of the guidance.The guide provides a helpful starter list of further reading, though further sources for architectural detailing (e.g. Elements of Style: An Encyclopedia of Domestic Architectural Detail by Stephen Calloway) may be helpful to encourage homeowners to consider period-appropriate features and fittings.
Figure 2: Example extract from Preston City Council's Supplementary Planning Guidance 5 Design Guide on the Repair and Replacement of Traditional Doors and Windows (removed from circulation), which usefully provided examples of inappropriate faux-historical door styles to avoid
It’s noted in the introduction that this guide will be of most use to those dealing with requests for listed building consent, though the document will also be of use for other historic terraces which aren’t listed but may be included in conservation areas.
It omits note of the general lack of designation for late-Victorian and Edwardian terraced houses. These houses fall outside the 1850 date beyond which the DCMS ‘Principles of Selection’ (November 2018) notes that ‘greater selection’ for listing is required. Given the limited extent of listed building designation for terraced housing, it might be helpful to include a brief policy compliance section, outlining what is permissible for listed terraced houses; those in conservation areas; and those which are locally listed or non-designated. It may also be useful to note that some terraced houses are subject to restrictive covenants which control changes to their appearance or built form, for example in Tothill Avenue in Plymouth (see Figure 3).
Helpfully, the document highlights the Party Wall Act for Houses of Multiple Occupation, which must be complied with. It also encourages engagement with the local authority in accordance with best practice.
Figure 3: Tothill Avenue’s terraced houses are not listed, in a conservation area or locally listed, though they are subject to restrictive covenants which required the continuity with adjacent terraces to be maintained and required that no changes be made to the boundary walls, railings and fences
We look forward to the publication of the final guidance in due course and are optimistic that some or all of our suggestions will be taken on board.
The Lichfields Cardiff office has guided some of Wales’ biggest development schemes through the consultation and engagement requirements of major planning applications and Developments of National Significance (DNSs)[i].
This Q&A explores the differences and similarities between the two determination regimes.
What are DNSs and Major Developments in Wales?
‘Major development’ includes residential development of 10 or more dwellings, or with a site area of at least 0.5 ha. For non-residential development it comprises sites with an area of at least 1 ha, those creating at least 1,000 sq m of floorspace, or waste or mineral development, unless it is classified as a DNS. Applications for major development are determined by the relevant local planning authority (unless they are subject to an appeal process).
DNS development includes projects of a specified scale relating to land uses including airports, railways and electricity-generating stations (among others). A full list of DNS project and thresholds is set out in the ‘Specified Criteria’ Regulations[i]. Applications for DNS development are determined by the Welsh Ministers through the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) Wales, with the local authority being a statutory consultee.
A DNS development does not have to be ‘major’ to be of ‘national significance’; it is solely dependent on whether the scale of development exceeds the thresholds set out in the Regulations.
Client image: Valero/ERM
What are the key differences between consultation and engagement for DNS and major development projects?
Both are required to undertake a minimum level of consultation prior to submission however there are key differences in the length and nature of that consultation.
DNS applicants are required to undertake pre-application consultation for 42 days. For major developments this is 28 days.
DNS pre-application consultation must include the publication of a newspaper notice, as well as consultation with other ‘relevant persons’. The exact nature of consultation and publicity will vary depending on the proposal and it is expected that most DNS projects will exceed the minimum requirements.
Post-submission publicity for DNS applications is undertaken by PINS Wales rather than the local planning authority. This includes a further newspaper notice, serving notice on adjoining owners or occupiers and a website. For major development applications a local authority would only need to publish a newspaper notice if the development is an EIA project, if it is not in accordance with planning policy or if it would affect a public right of way.
DNS applications are determined by the Welsh Ministers though the relevant local authority is required to submit a Local Impact Report. Community Councils and other interested local planning authorities may submit a Voluntary Local Impact Report. These are similar in nature to the Officer’s Report associated with major planning applications.
What are the consultation challenges for DNS projects and major developments and how can these be overcome?
Many of the challenges are similar between the two determination routes, albeit they are often amplified for larger scale developments. Below we look at some of the key challenges and how they may be overcome:
Ensuring Compliance: Understanding of the relevant legislative requirements is vital. This is applicable for DNS and major developments, but the complexity of DNS projects means this is particularly important and, if not undertaken correctly, could lead to considerable problems at the determination stage. Make sure that you have a project team that has a proven track record in the relevant consultation process.
Timing & Frequency: Whilst DNS and major development consultations have mandatory elements, going above and beyond the statutory requirements can pay dividends. Ironing out as many issues as possible at the pre-application stage will allow the determination process to focus on the key issues; providing certainty to all and speeding up the decision-making process. Early and regular engagement can therefore have big benefits, but it is important that the engagement is meaningful.
Misinformation & Proportionality: Due to the scale and complexity of major and DNS applications the risk of misinformation, or small issues becoming a major problem is a risk. The use of social media has increased the speed at which this can happen. Lichfields' Smarter Engagement Five Point Plan highlights the need for a consultation strategy to be shaped by an understanding of the various stakeholder groups relevant to the project. It is important that the team responds to potential issues at the earliest opportunity. Ignoring misinformation could compromise the project in the long run.
Managing Volume: the scale of DNS and major development projects makes managing the volume of responses, reviewing and handling them in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) a significant task in itself. It is vital to have robust and efficient handling procedures in place.
Value of face-to face contact: Neither regime makes it mandatory to meet consultees face-to-face however faceless consultation can fuel misinformation and misunderstanding (see above). Invariably there is a solution to a problem through face-to-face contact and explaining the proposed development.
What tips would you specifically give to applicants for DNS and/or major development projects?
Consultation is key! Think about consultation and engagement early in the process and allow sufficient time in the programme. Specifically for DNS projects, be mindful that the application must be submitted within 1 year of PINS Wales’ acceptance date of the DNS.
Understand the relevant Regulations and what is required at each stage to avoid delay and the potential for future legal challenge.
Make sure to use the correct consultation and notice forms. For DNS projects these are provided as Schedules within the DNS Procedure Order (NB. PINS Wales can provide these forms in English and Welsh on request).
Only undertake mandatory pre-application consultation when you are ready. There is scope to vary the proposed development once the DNS or major development consultation has finished, however if substantial scheme changes are made the process may need to start again.
Remember to include any secondary consents in the DNS application scheme/consultation. This includes Listed Building Consent, Conservation Area Consent and Hazardous Substances Consent, among others.
Ensure that the consultation is accessible to all – including English and Welsh speakers (N.B. Lichfields can provide in-house translation services if required).
Think of the mandatory pre-application consultation website as a tool for disseminating information as well as a consultation portal. This helps to keep everyone updated and encourages communities to become involved in the project.
Image credit: Foster + Partners
 Developments of National Significance, Welsh Government The Developments of National Significance (Specified Criteria and Prescribed Secondary Consents) (Wales) Regulations 2016