This month’s SPS round up including: our work to protect heritage buildings in Lowestoft, Badley and Earl Stonham; a good outcome for a 17th century dovecote at Thurlow; the launch of National Landscapes; and a report on our recent retrofit workshop.

Lowestoft – demolition of historic buildings

SPS has strongly objected to plans to demolish two buildings in Whapload Road within the North Lowestoft Conservation Area. These are considered to be important remnants of the town’s industrial heritage. SPS supports plans to bring this derelict site back into use, and is aware of the poor condition of some of the buildings on the site, but this is a sensitive area, adjacent to grade II listed Fish House which is one of the oldest surviving structures associated with the Lowestoft fishing industry. We strongly believe that this is an opportunity to better reveal the historic past of the town and thought should be given to how the applicant’s aims can be achieved whilst safeguarding the character and significance of this group of buildings.

Badley Hall solar farm heritage assessment

SPS has previously objected to this solar scheme due to the harm that would result to the isolated Badley Church Green Conservation Area. This contains an important grouping of designated heritage assets including: St Mary’s Church (grade I), Badley Hall and barn (both grade II*), dovecote (grade II) and a designed landscaped approach from the east.  A Cultural Heritage Report has been submitted in response to the concerns raised by SPS, Historic England and the local authorities.  Whilst further historical assessment of this sensitive site is welcomed, we have carried out our own historical research and have challenged a number of points in the report.

Earl Stonham commercial solar farm on Blacksmith’s Lane

This scheme will result in a stark change in character to a deeply rural, agricultural landscape containing a significant number of designated heritage assets close to the site.  There are 32 listed buildings within 1km and four listed farmhouses are immediately adjacent to the site. The proposed landscaping will not provide adequate mitigation for the heritage impacts identified as well as the visual impact of the proposals on residents and those travelling on the local road and footpath network.   SPS has urged for a more meaningful package of landscape mitigation and buffer areas to be agreed.

SPS also commented on: an application for large additions to a pair of cottages in Holbrook; amendments to an application for two dwellings within the Conservation area at Eye; and extensions and alterations to 23 & 24 Park Cottages, Tattingstone.

The dovecote, Thurlow Estate

SPS was pleased to learn that the Estate has decided to carry out conservation repairs to its 17th century dovecote (removing cementitious render, making it weather-proof and repairing timbers etc) and plans to use it as a part of their primary school education programme.  Children from local schools visit the estate to learn about farming and farm history.  SPS had previously objected to a planning application to convert the dovecote into a 3 bed dwelling as we were concerned by the intensive conversion, the potential loss of historic fabric and the impact upon the conservation area. So, a welcomed outcome for this special little building.

Dovecote, Thurlow Estate. Image: Tom Boden

Energy efficiency and old buildings

SPS partnered with Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and Historic England to deliver a one day workshop this month.

The sell out audience of professionals, homeowners and community representatives demonstrated the growing interest and importance of this topic. We hope to run the event again in 2024.

National Landscapes – the new name for AONBs

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty were rebranded to National Landscapes on 22 Nov. This is a countrywide change and in Suffolk the areas will now be known as the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape and the Dedham Vale National Landscape and Stour Valley.  This is more than just a name and logo change, it is around what National Landscapes can offer to address concerns of nature depletion, climate change and public health and well-being.