THE conservation area in St Ives has been hugely expanded to take in most of the 19th century additions to the town. The original area, formulated in 1978 and 1980 encompassed the mediaeval area around the old bridge and the town centre, but missed out mu
THE conservation area in St Ives has been hugely expanded to take in most of the 19th century additions to the town.
The original area, formulated in 1978 and 1980 encompassed the mediaeval area around the old bridge and the town centre, but missed out much of the town's more recent buildings and public spaces, including Warner's Park, Needingworth Road and much of the southern part of Ramsey Road.
Although it already included parts of Hemingford Grey and Fenstanton parishes, those have been extended to cover the southern end of London Road and the previously flood-prone area of Victoria Terrace that is now protected by a new £8million flood defence scheme that was opened earlier this year.
The re-designation is part of a review of Huntingdonshire's 60-plus conservation areas that has also seen massive expansion of the protected areas of St Neots, Godmanchester and Ramsey.
Local historians have long insisted that the developments around the traditional town "closes" in the last 200 years, such as Warner's Park, should get some sort of development protection. Huntingdonshire District Council is now trying to deliver that.
Modern thinking is that conservation areas should be designed to preserve not just ancient and landmark buildings, but pleasant walks, views and community settings with architectural merit.
While those definitions would exclude most of post-war St Ives - and post-war everywhere else - it means that the largely traffic-free spaces of Warner's Park and Cromwell Terrace get significant protection. So does the area around the old railway station, between the town centre and the bypass.
The inclusion of Needingworth Road, on the town side of the A1123, means that Huntingdonshire's only listed Roman Catholic Church, that of the Sacred Heart, is included, along with many significant early-20th century three-storey houses.
Although conservation area status does not prevent further development, it gives the planners greater control into the way any new building fits with the built and social environment.
The town contains 176 listed buildings, including three rated Grade I - the parish church, the ancient bridge and the chapel of St Leger that sits on it in the middle of the River Great Ouse.
But HDC has refused to include The Wilderness, which includes a few homes on the eastern side of Harrison Way, in the conservation area because it must live with a park-and-ride site for the new Huntingdon-Cambridge guided bus link that is due to open in 15 months' time.