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Conservation Area Appraisal

In March 2019 Morpeth Town Council commissioned a Conservation Area Appraisal (CAA) for Morpeth, the last conservation area was designated in 1970, although never formally adopted.  The CAA was completed and was adopted by Northumberland County Council (NCC) in June 2020.  A press release was issued, see below –

Morpeth Town Council has adopted a detailed appraisal of the Conservation Area which will be of significant use to developers and planners and give more weight to the existing Conservation Area in decision making.

The Conservation Area Appraisal gives a readable description of the setting, history, development and changing architectural culture of the town.  It includes details such as types of roof tiles, stone and bricks used in changing architectural styles from different periods in the development of the town, from Norman through to 21st century development.

The document will therefore provide clear context for future development in the town centre. This will ensure that Morpeth keeps its identity and distinctiveness through its current and ongoing period of rapid growth.

Since the current Conservation Area, defined in the 1970’s, is highly constrained on the town centre, it excludes many iconic buildings of the town.  Morpeth Town Council has therefore commissioned a second phase of the study, to be carried out in the coming year, which will review the boundaries of the existing Conservation Area.

Quote from the Mayor, Cllr Alison Byard:

“I am delighted that Morpeth Town Council is once again a front runner in commissioning this Appraisal of our town’s existing Conservation Area and is now moving forward to the next stage, a review of its boundaries.  This document will be an essential tool for planners and developers in ensuring that the historic character and charm of our town centre will be protected and where possible, enhanced.  This is especially important during this period of rapid growth for Morpeth”.

Conservation Area Boundary Review

A second phase of the CAA was to review the current conservation area boundaries.  A review of the conservation area was completed and put out for public consultation, which ran from 20th November 2020 to 8th January 2021.  The consultation was virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic and the inability to hold public meetings in person.  Although the public consultation is now closed it does provide an insight as to the reasoning behind the review and links to the Conservation Area Appraisal and boundary review report.

Following the consultation period, all comments were collated with a final draft of the boundary review going to Morpeth Planning and Transport Committee for consideration on 10th March 2021.  Members recommended to Full Council that the review be approved and a request be made to NCC to formally adopt the review.

On 9th November 2021, NCC Cabinet formally adopted the Boundary Review, and released the following statement to the Press in February 2022, see below –

The boundary of the Morpeth Conservation Area has been extended following a recent review.

The changes to the Morpeth Conservation Area will play an important role in protecting the character and appearance of the area and will contribute to its success as a thriving market town.

The changes were adopted by Northumberland County Council in November 2021.  They include: an extension from the back of Oldgate and Bridge Street to the river; the inclusion of Carlisle Park, Ha Hill and Morpeth Castle; the inclusion of the old Police Station and associated buildings behind the Court House and an extension to the eastern boundary east to Dark Lane, including Dacre Street, all of Manchester Street, Well Way, Wellway Court, the southern side of Howard Road and northwards along Cottingwood Lane. 

Other changes have been made to the boundary on the north and west approaches to Morpeth and at the back of the north side of Bridge Street. A map of the Conservation Area boundary can be found on the Council’s website

Conservation Areas are defined as areas of ‘special architectural or historic interest’ which are to be protected and improved.

Morpeth’s Conservation Area was first established in 1970 and had remained unchanged for 50 years.  However, following the production of a Character Appraisal and Boundary Review, commissioned from Land Use Consultants by Morpeth Town Council, a number of changes have been made to ensure that additional areas of special architectural or historic interest have been included.

Conservation Areas exist to manage and protect the special architectural and historic interest of a place and are widely recognised as a tool for positive management. Whilst they do include some additional planning controls these do not apply to routine maintenance work, internal works and replacement of windows and doors to most residential properties. 

Research shows that house prices in Conservation Areas are significantly higher than those in similar non-Conservation area and that the historic environment is attractive to business.

Northumberland County Councillor, Colin Horncastle cabinet member for community services said:

“There is a legislative requirement to review Conservation Area boundaries periodically and the need for a review of the Morpeth boundary was identified in the Neighbourhood Plan. 

“Once we looked at the original boundary in detail it was astonishing how many areas which clearly contribute to the character and historic importance of Morpeth had not been included.”

“Morpeth has a rich heritage, and it is important that this is preserved and protected for future generations. The amendments to the Conservation Area boundary are a celebration of the special historic and architectural character of Morpeth and the vital contribution this makes to the success of the town as an enjoyable place to live, work and visit.”

Councillor Alison Byard, Chair of the Planning and Transport Committee from Morpeth Town Council added

“Morpeth is a vibrant town that has evolved over hundreds of years and will continue to adapt in the future. The extended conservation area designation will provide a clear framework for new development and will enable the town’s centre to continue to change and thrive, but in a way that ensures that its character, which is a key part of what makes it special, is not harmed.”

“Designation within a conservation area doesn’t mean every building will be preserved and that no changes will be allowed, but instead helps to ensure changes respect the area’s character and appearance.”

Please see the links below which may be of assistance to those whose properties were already in or now find their properties within the new conservation area boundary.

Advice from Historic England

NCC general information on Conservation Areas

For further guidance please contact Northumberland County Council.