The National Planning Policy Framework requires due attention is paid to heritage matters in the development of plans for an area.
The Local Plan has identified the need to safeguard the settings of heritage assets, including listed buildings in South Marston Village, from the impact of the new development.
Local Plan Policy EN10b cites the requirement as:
‘Proposals for development affecting heritage assets shall conserve and, where appropriate, enhance their significance and setting. Any harm to the significance of a designated or non-designated heritage asset, or their loss, must be justified. Proposals will be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal, whether it has been demonstrated that all reasonable efforts have been made to sustain the existing use, find new uses, or mitigate the extent of the harm to the significance of the asset; and whether the works proposed are the minimum required to secure the long term use of the asset.’
Additionally, the first objective of the Environmental Statement in support of the Local Plan is:
‘to assess the potential impact of construction of the proposed development on known and potential heritage assets and to evaluate the significance of the impact’.
The Built Environment in South Marston
Listed Buildings: (either in or neighbouring the plan area)
- Church Farmhouse Grade II
- Church of St Mary Magdalen Grade I
- Gordon Cottage Grade II
- Lock Keeper’s Cottage Grade II
- Longleaze Farmhouse Grade II
- Manor Farmhouse Grade II
- Marston Farmhouse Grade II
- Nightingale Farmhouse Grade II
- Priory Farmhouse Grade II
- The Red House Grade II
Potential Heritage Buildings:
In the vicinity of Pound Corner:
- Cambria House, Dryden Cottage, Dryden House, Exton Cottage
- Rose Cottage, Village Hall, Ranikhet, Primary School, St Mary’s Cottage.
- South Marston Primary School Victorian building
- South Marston House (part of what was the Mercure Hotel building),
- South Marston Farmhouse (Cheese Room)
- Manor Cottages, Leaze Cottage, Carpenters Arms, and Carriers Arms.
Development in the neighbourhood area may have an impact on the settings of many of the above buildings. Appropriate assessments will be required as part of the development management process as the expansion progresses. The following are worthy of particular mention:
- Pound Corner: Many of the surrounding houses are of architectural but also cultural interest, being related to the life of the Hammerman poet, Alfred Williams. He was born in Cambria Cottage. Alfred William’s family moved to Rose Cottage (1865), to the east of Pound Corner, in 1881, and Alfred moved into Dryden Cottage when he got married in 1903. He moved again in 1921when this cottage was sold as part of the Estate. He and his wife then lived in Ranikhet, a house that he built himself at the junction of Chapel Lane close to Rose Cottage.
- In around 1870, Alfred Bell moved into the village and became, formally or informally, Lord of the Manor, and lived at the now demolished Manor House. He instigated a number of building projects that added significantly to the architecture of the village centre. He paid for a substantial renovation of the Church, commemorated on a brass plaque in the Church and given a date of 1885 on the Church clock. He also paid for the building of the school house, completed in 1873 with a bell tower, and substantial houses around Pound Corner, to include Cambria Cottage and Dryden House, which bear his initials. His daughters sponsored later stained glass windows in the Church. The Bell Estate, which included most of the village, was auctioned in 1918.
- South Marston Village Hall: This site of the Hall was reputedly the village blacksmiths. Originally the ‘Men’s Reading Room’, it has been the centre of South Marston village social and civic engagement for almost a century. However, it will not be adequate as a community hall for the expanded community (seating 60 and with just one room and kitchen). It has been subsidised through a grant from the Parish Council every year for many decades. When the existing building ceases to be in use as a community hall, the village is keen that conversion to alternative uses should retain the current form and frontage given its place in South Marston’s history. The war memorial which used to be located at the hall now has pride of place in the Village garden, opposite to the school, which is owned and maintained by the Parish Council.
- Prior to development of any traffic management scheme for the junction or any other development in this central area, its effect on the character and context of the nearby buildings should be explored.
- The new school buildings should be designed to complement the Victorian school building that will be retained.
- South Marston House: In the event of development of the hotel site, South Marston House should be retained, if reasonably practical, given its history as the vicarage for the parish Church of St Mary Magdalen and as one of the original prestigious South Marston buildings.
- Manor Farmhouse: As one of the first large buildings in South Marston, and the centre of the South Marston Estate, this has both cultural and architectural interest. Its location within the strategic allocation of housing in the Local Plan will mean that any impact will require formal assessment. Some of the surrounding farm buildings may also be of interest, although most are in poor condition.
- Longleaze Farmhouse: Although not affected by any planned housing development under this Neighbourhood Plan, the potential impacts from the construction and design of the proposed improvements to the road junction at the Carpenters Arms on the A420 should be explored.
The Natural Environment Assets
Consultation over many years has brought forward a strong desire that, if development is to happen, the expanded South Marston should retain its rural identity and character. In determining the nature of this character, the factors most often mentioned are the ‘rural feel’ from roads bounded by traditional hedgerows and the views towards the Downs and the Church from the current Recreation Ground and what will be the expanded Village Centre under this Neighbourhood Plan. Other factors are the degree of separation between the expanded village and the railway line, delivered through the ‘anti-coalescence’ strip identified in the Local Plan.
Recent development within South Marston has confirmed the desire to create more green spaces and green infrastructure corridors to benefit both biodiversity and community wellbeing. We are lucky to have two areas of Community Forest (Oxleaze and Nightingale Woods) within easy reach and both are used regularly for recreation and walking dogs. However, there are few off-road footpaths or cycleways fit for use in all weathers and a lack of continuous footways alongside village roads. Where they exist, they are well used and valued. The village is keen to see the existing rights of way improved and new ones created to increase the value to the community and provide greater enjoyment of the countryside that will still surround the built up area of the village.
The protection afforded in the Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plan to Nightingale Lane and Rowborough Lane as accesses to Nightingale Wood is therefore welcomed by the village. The existing Bridleway 4 is valued as an alternative route on foot/bike/horse out of the village, linking as it does to the sunken lane that joins Thornhill Road north of Keypoint roundabout. The sunken lane is also of some historic cultural interest. The original ‘entrance’ to Manor Farmhouse is via the sunken lane, bearing left through a double hedge and then north along the existing footpath 5. This is the preferred route for the Cycleway A link to Keypoint roundabout as described in Section 19 of this plan.
The green infrastructure alongside South Marston Brook, which, as a result of backland development, is now being developed as a community resource, is an increasingly valued part of the village hinterland, whilst providing varied wildlife habitats. St Julian’s Wood, in particular, is set to become a focus of conservation volunteering events, attracting local community and outside volunteer groups in to develop, maintain and enjoy it.
The Parish Council intend to prepare a ‘Natural Environment’ policy to support a wildlife-friendly approach to development and maintenance of landscaping and the natural environment across the whole parish area in line with, and as an extension to Policy EN4. This will seek to influence the maintenance policy for existing as well as new development.