There has been an alarming spike in inappropriate and unlawful works carried out on numerous shopfronts and windows above shops in the last six months, say Crystal Palace Triangle Planning Group in a letter to Croydon council.
“Shop and building owners clearly do not know the rules of development in the conservation area or choose to ignore them.
“A small inexpensive leaflet posted to all properties and shops in the area would go a long way in potentially stopping many of these inappropriate developments ever getting to the planning and enforcement stage”.
The group’s comments come in a letter of objection to Croydon for a retrospective application for a new shopfront at 46 Westow Hill.
The CPTPG say 46 Westow Hill is an attractive three-storey Victorian building that forms a terrace along this part of Westow Hill.
“The proposed aluminium framed shopfront put up without permission is clearly detrimental to the Victorian building and the wider conservation area. “The shopfront design and materials are clearly not suitable for the conservation area.
“46 Westow Hill is located within the Upper Norwood Triangle Conservation Area. “The conservation area policies have had an extensive overhaul in the last few years with an updated and strengthened Upper Norwood Triangle area appraisal and management plan (Upper Norwood Triangle Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan (CAAMP)) .
The group say Croydon’s local plan and strengthened conservation area policies are quite clear and this retrospective application quite clearly fails on all the following points below which are relevant for this application:
Upper Norwood Triangle Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan (CAAMP)
5.2.2 The design of new shopfronts plays a crucial role in maintaining the architectural character of the conservation area; poor quality shopfront design and materials have a negative impact on the character of the conservation area.
7.3 KEY THREATS AND NEGATIVE ISSUES
7.2.1 While insensitive development can instantly harm the conservation area’s special character, negative change can often occur incrementally through alterations that do not require planning permission.
The installation of inappropriate materials in historic buildings, for example uPVC windows or doors, can have a significant negative impact on their character and appearance.
7.2.2 The conservation area’s character is also at risk from poorly designed new shopfronts constructed from inappropriate materials and / or including unauthorised solid shutters.
9.8.2 The design of all proposed new shopfronts should respond to the established local context of traditionally designed shopfronts (see section 5.2) and should respect the period and character of their host buildings.
Shopfronts of a contemporary design will generally not be considered appropriate in historic buildings. All shopfronts should be of timber construction.
Shopfront Security Addendum To Supplementary Planning Guidance No 1 (SPG No 1)
3.9 Many attractive traditional shopfronts have been lost throughout the borough and replaced by the standardised aluminium type shopfronts, often with large areas of glass, deep fascias and unattractive materials and/or heavy roller shutters. In cases where unsuitable replacements have been installed the Council will encourage shopowners to repair or re-establish appropriate shopfronts.
“It is clear this application is a clear detriment to the conservation area” say the CPTPG. “There are several very current similar instances of inappropriate shopfronts put up without any consent on both the Croydon and Lambeth sides of the town centre.
“Unless this is refused the instances will only increase and all the hard work gone into improving the area through The Upper Norwood Triangle CAAMP will have been wasted and the conservation area could very easily slip back into English Heritage’s at risk register.
“It is paramount Croydon doesn’t show a lapse of judgement and unwittingly set a precedent that will allow the other unlawful signage in the area to remain and multiply. “Even allowing one inappropriate application to slip through the net will simple allow others to do the same.”