What’s Going On in Bridge Street? – Warrington Borough Council’s Compulsory Purchase Order

It’s taken me quite a long time to unravel the 148 pages of Warrington Borough Council’s Compulsory Purchase Order for development on Bridge Street, but what it appears to boil down to is the following:

The Council is calling on its powers under Section 226 (1) (a) and Section 226 (3) (a) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) and Section 13 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

Section 226 (1) (a) gives rights to a local authority, on being authorised to do so by the Secretary of State, to compulsorily purchase any land in their area if the LA thinks that by doing so it will make easier the carrying out of ‘development, redevelopment or improvement on or in relation to the land’.

Section 226 (3) (a) gives rights to a local authority, on being authorised to do so by the Secretary of State, to compulsorily purchase any land adjoining the land purchased under Section 226 (1) which is required for carrying out works which will make development or use of the land purchased under Section 226 (1) easier.

Section 13 enables the LA, on being authorised by a Minister of the Crown, to acquire ‘new rights’ that they themselves specify, over the land compulsorily purchased.

(My italics.)

So. The CPO describes 11 rights that the Council wishes to acquire for the following purposes:

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What’s Going On in Warrington??

It’s inevitable I suppose, seeing the way my life’s going at the moment – or should that be ‘not going’ – that no sooner do I feel I’ve wrestled the latest obstacle in the way of working towards a PhD into manageable proportions, than another one crops up in its place.

I wrote the previous post last week and left it on my computer until I could find a space to add in some links. (This also helps with the typos. Being trained to spot them doesn’t stop you making them; it just annoys you even more.) While I was looking for something aposite for the Bridge Street Quarter development Google threw up an article at the local paper, the Warrington Guardian.

It seems to be implying that, as part of the development, the Council is making draconian use of its powers to compulsory purchase most of Bridge Street. Now, to my mind, you don’t compulsory purchase a building unless you’re planning to do something the owners are probably going to object to – like knocking most of it down?? – so this is immediately ringing alarm bells.

More Google searches found the Compulsory Purchase Order offered for consultation on the Council’s website and a‘final’ CPO buried somewhere in its depths, but the Order Maps referred to, outlining the buildings, that would make things clearer, aren’t attached to either. It needs going through in detail but, at nearly 150 pages, I haven’t yet had time. First impressions, though, are that they’re making a clean sweep on the relevant side of Bridge Street.

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Town Centre Listed Buildings – Warrington’s Bewsey Street (Part Two)

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.

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Town Centre Listed Buildings – Warrington’s Bewsey Street (Part One)

I am supposed to be working on an outline for the area of my book dealing with Warrington in the Fifties, but I am getting more and more drawn into trying to find out what has been happening with that section of the nation’s built heritage in Warrington’s care. It is taking a while to get to the bottom of this and the results of my investigations are deeply depressing.

Warrington has 87 statutory listed items in the town centre and an additional 14 in Church Street; the collosal road works of the 90s having turned the town’s original site into a sort of extra-parochial adjunct to the town itself. Listing identifies buildings that are of significant national, and sometimes even international, importance that must be preserved for the knowledge and enjoyment of future generations. Of those designated Grade II, a mere 5.5% are listed Grade II* and a tiny 2.5 % are listed Grade I.

Warrington’s town centre alone has six Grade II* and three Grade I listed items.

The majority of these are within one of the town centre’s seven statutory Conservation Areas: Bewsey Street, Bridge Street, Buttermarket Street, Palmyra Square, Town Hall and Winwick Street. It must be remembered that a listing may refer to a group of buildings or an entire terrace, so the number of individual buildings will be considerably higher.

Bewsey StreetWarrington’s most fashionable address in the eighteenth century, has nine listed items, all Grade II: four blocks of residential terraces: numbers 39-49, 51-61, 63-67 and 72-74; the St Albans RC Church; its Presbytery; number 14, Bewsey Chambers; number 93, and 1 Froghall Lane.

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Town Centre Conservation Areas – Preserving Warrington’s Historic Core?

A while ago I needed to check a date on a building on Bridge Street so, rather than look through all my notes, I did a quick Google search. One of the documents it threw up was a Conservation Area Appraisal for Bridge Streetprepared by the council’s planning policy department in 2006. This made very interesting reading, despite none of the photographs and maps having downloaded with the text, but a re-direct from the council led me to a, rather obscure, page where the downloads had functioning images.

Thus began a trail that seems to be leading me into discoveries that are making me more and more concerned.

It started simply enough. I noticed that Figure 1 on the Bridge Conservation Area Appraisal, a map showing the extent of all the Conservation Areas in the town centre, included one for Winwick Street, the ancient route to and from the North, but there was no appraisal on the council’s website. Further examination of the page to which I had been directed showed management proposals for only two thirds of the Areas.

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