Background

Newton Village near Porthcawl, is a designated Conservation Area in Bridgend County Borough. Such areas are defined as ‘an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character and appearance of which is desirable to preserve or enhance.’ The Newton Conservation area includes the historic core of the village, with the church and its surrounding village green. Conservation Area designation is more dependent on the overall quality and interest of the area, rather than individual buildings, though within Newton, there are five listed buildings, with the church being Grade 1. The area is also notable for retaining fine examples of eighteenth and nineteenth century houses, as well its stone boundary walls and extensive tree belts.

“Newton was designated a Conservation Area in August 1973,” says Claire Hamm, Team Leader Conservation and Design. “There had been little or no updated assessment on the village since that time,” she adds. “We needed an Appraisal and Management Plan to assist the County Borough to preserve and enhance the character and appearance of the village. At the same time, we wanted residents in Newton to recognise the benefits of living and working in a Conservation Area and their own responsibilities for protecting its future.”

The Appraisal examined a number of issues including an updated assessment of the character of the village, whether the designated boundaries were still appropriate and whether there was enough control on changes made to buildings in the area.

Reach Help

Consultants with specific expertise in undertaking appraisals of Conservation Areas were appointed by the County Borough. “An initial part of this exercise was organising and holding a community event so that residents in the area could receive information and give their input into the assessment.” says Claire. “We produced an exhibition display which highlighted the fact that they lived in a Conservation Area,” she adds. “The existing boundaries were also detailed and residents’ feedback throughout the process was extremely important.”

Reach facilitated the community consultation, arranging and paying for the venue and publicising and attending the event. In addition, they partly funded the consultants’ fees. The total project cost was £1,500, with reach providing £550. Match funding of £950 was financed by Bridgend County Borough Council Planning and Regeneration Section.

Outcome and Impact

Residents’ responses and comments have been collated, taken into account and have been incorporated into the final Appraisal and Management Plan. Recommended actions will be prioritised, with a planned timetable for these to be phased in. The report will then go to Committee for approval by Bridgend County Borough.

"The Appraisal and Management Plan has raised awareness of the special characteristics of Newton and as a result, many residents are seeking more advice on what are appropriate alterations to their properties."

Claire Hamm - Team Leader, Conservation and Development Bridgend County Borough Council