I’ve detailed all the buildings in Bewsey Street, because the Conservation Area is so small that those buildings that are unlisted have a considerable impact on the whole.
So to finish off. After the Wycliffe Church, going back down the street towards town on the right hand side, a short terrace of three, very attractive (unlisted), Early Victorian houses has orange-y red, possibly local, brickwork, with bay windows on the ground floor and is forecourted.
A second terrace of three houses joined on (also unlisted) are in a similar style and brickwork, but without the bay windows, and are shown on Streetview as boarded up and derelict. A further terrace of four unlisted houses are joined on to them, but appear to be of a different period: the doors are not as elaborate and the brickwork is darker. These last appear to be residential and have a mix of different window styles – one horizontal – a mix of modern doors, differing coloured stonework and Late Victorian style boundary walls.
Bewsey Street ends with a very nice (unlisted) terrace of five: four paired and one at the end. They are all built of the lovely Cheshire brick with matching paintwork all along and appropriate sash windows. One has a garden wall and is possibly still a house, and the others, which look like offices, have reinstated railings, though these are modern in style.
There is no mention of 14 Bewsey Chambers and I strongly suspect it was located on the other side of the underpass and was therefore demolished.
The whole Conservation Area presents a distinctly uneven appearance. There really are some wonderful buildings here, yet they have nearly all been allowed to change for the worse, in some way or other. It is actually possible to make what is known as an Article 4 Direction, that restricts the alteration of the external appearance of buildings, even if unlisted, if they are situated in a Conservation Area and it is difficult to understand in that case why it was not applied.
Of the nine items for Bewsey Street in the document on the council’s website that gives details of all listed buildings within the borough, six have been altered, some significantly, and one has been demolished.
Again, it is difficult to know how to respond to this. The Conservation Area Appraisal for Bewsey Street calls for rigorous application of the Council’s conservation and development policies, so they obviously have such things in place, though, for some reason, they’re not using them.
It’s also not as if there isn’t any help or support on these matters. English Heritage publishes a number of good practice guides, including one specifically for Conservation Areas. They even have a special programme: Historic Environment Local Management to help local authorities with their responsibilities to the built heritage in their care.
So why this reluctance? This almost lack of interest?
In a recent email, the Council said they had had no Conservation Officer since 2008/9 – which seems an extra-ordinarily long time! – so perhaps it is only that there is no one person to assign things to. But even so, as English Heritage stress on their website, safeguarding the town’s heritage is not just the responsibility of one person on the Council, but the responsibility of all.
They recently launched a Heritage at Risk campaign to create greater awareness of the role that all sections of a town’s community play in caring for its historic environment, something we definitely need to embrace.