Lytham St Annes

Key points
• Replacing gardens by hardstandings is destroying the quality of the streets
• Consider how creating a conservation area could help
• Work with the council (and help fund officers’ time) on conservation issues

People in the Ansdell area of the seaside town of Lytham St Anne’s in Lancashire carried out a Placecheck to find out how to protect the quality of their delightful residential streets. One issue above all seemed to be the priority for action. A great deal of the quality of the streets comes from the front gardens, their distinctive brick walls and their stone gateposts. Recently some homeowners have started taking down the walls and turning their gardens into hardstandings for their parked cars. That disrupts the streetscape, ruins the character of the area and cuts down the publicly available parking space. Before long the place’s character will have been irrevocably damaged.

Discussion after the Lytham St Anne’s Placecheck focused on the idea of creating a conservation area. That would recognise the significance of the place, and could be a first step towards taking action to protect the area’s character. The next question for the Placecheck was how to create the conservation area, and who needed to be involved in the process. During the walkabout the participants discussed what the appropriate boundaries of a conservation area might be.

The Placecheck was carried out by four members of the Lytham St Anne’s Civic Society, a member of St Anne’s Town Council Planning Committee, a member of Melton Grove Residents Association, Fylde Borough Council’s conservation officer and a person on a placement with Fylde Borough Council’s planning department.

After a briefing in the home of one of the participants, the Placecheckers split into two groups and set off in opposite directions across Ansdell. Observations were made and recorded en route. The groups later met and discussed what they had found.

The findings of this Placecheck led to the creation of a variant of the method: Gardencheck. This is a simple means of assessing the front gardens of a street as the first step in preventing the continuing loss of front gardens to paving and parking.

What do we like?
• Garden walls with decorative brickwork and coping stones
• Pebbled walls
• Chimney stacks with decorative pots
• Original slate tile roofs
• Gate posts with decorative tops
• Original stained glass windows
• Stair windows (often stained)
• Date plaques on housefronts/shopfronts
• Terraces built in symmetry
• Gardens reaching to the pavement so retaining views of tree lined roads and green avenues.
• New builds echoing original architecture (eg library)
• Dicky Bush
• Local residents making garden beds in public places (under railway footbridge)
• Uniform bay windows above attractive shop fronts
• Original stone edging on pavements (Windsor Road)
• Preservation of bank buildings/sympathetic change of use
• Buildings already listed
• Retention of the last building from the original train station behind Starr Hills from which Ansdell got its name.
• The historic communities of Commonside and Ansdell
• Ansdell Institute as a listed building and community asset

What do we dislike?
• Demolition of garden walls and gateposts to allow off street parking
• Setting back or removal of pavement side gardens
• Addition of porches on terrace houses upsetting the architectural symmetry
• Replacement of original stained glass with plastic double glazing.
• Removal/modernization of bay windows above shops (Woodlands Road)
• Unsympathetic signage/shopfronts
• Demolition of chimney stacks
• The loss of communities as development merges the historic areas into each other
• The inconsistency in design of shop fronts and signage
• The lack of overall plan for the village
• Lack of parking on Woodlands Road
• Solar panels on period properties

What do we need to work on?
Article 4 directions: Individual issues such as the replacing of gardens with parking areas in front of the cottages on Commonside. These could possibly be addressed with Article 4 directions but would be better incorporated into a conservation area with its associated planning regulations.
Conservation area: It was decided that there is a definite need for an identified area of Ansdell to become a conservation area which would help retain its historic value and heritage.
Local list: Of important buildings with heritage value to be compiled using the list in the back of Civics book as a start.
Council officers: The need for a dedicated officer within Fylde Borough Council to invest time and resources into the development of the above.
Partnership working: Negotiations between FBC, LSA Civic Society and the relevant area town council or community group around funding the position to be continued. Input from partners into Local plans and lists to be sought.
Advice for property owners within the area: Civic to consider an information leaflet for new/existing owners about conservation/planning issues. Potential for Ansdell plan involving shopkeepers and residents in setting standards for properties.
Future walkabouts to be arranged in other areas of Lytham St Annes.