Garrett Era Area – conservation area designation abandoned?

We were extremely disappointed to learn that the proposed, and long anticipated, designation of the Garrett Era Area Conservation Area in Aldeburgh is likely to be abandoned.

East Suffolk officers recently advised the Aldeburgh Society and Town Council that as a result of a public consultation exercise, all further work on the designation has been stopped. The consultation had just a 35% response rate, and of these responses 40% did not support designation.

The Garret Era Area is a distinctive area of unique character dating mostly from the mid-19th century, largely as a result of the efforts of the Garrett family. The local plan highlights pressures such as plot sub-division, and loss of trees over time with no requirement for their replacement. It acknowledges that:

this distinctive area of townscape is vulnerable to change which could significantly affect and diminish the character of this part of the town

James Darwin and Dr Paul Bradley prepared an appraisal of the area’s history, character and special interest for East Suffolk DC earlier this year. It is available here.

We agree with the Aldeburgh Society that there is no requirement in law for the council to seek the overwhelming support of communities when making such designations. We share their disappointment that the council has peremptorily dropped this longstanding aspiration.

This populist approach to the management of the historic environment is unlikely to ensure best outcomes for our unique townscapes.

A map of the area proposed is available here