Thursday 5 March 2020

Keswick Conservation Area - The English Lake District WHS

Shucks! ....... very happy to get these responses to my Keswick Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan on behalf of the Lake District National Park Authority.  It's all about making reports accessible to all.

From a member of the public .....

"My wife and I recently visited the Moot Hall to take a look at the plans in hardcopy form. 

I just wanted you to know that we were both extremely impressed with the quality of the planning document.

It is a masterly piece of work - conducted at the most painstaking level of detail.  Brilliant !!
In fact, I would love to get hold of a hardcopy to keep in the house.
Clearly it has been produced for a very serious purpose, but once it has served that purpose you really ought to consider its intrinsic value - - It documents extensively the architecture of Keswick with reference to historical and cultural links and is, to my knowledge, far and away the best document to do so.

Do you have plans at some point in the future to publish it and offer it for sale to the general public ?  I for one would be very prepared to pay quite a high price for a copy

Congratulations again"

and from the National Trust .....

"Thank you so much for inviting me to feedback on the draft Keswick Conservation Area assessment.  I have spent some time looking at the document this morning and think it really is an excellent example of its type. 

I haven’t attempted to read it all from cover to cover, and have instead dipped into areas where I thought I might be able to add value, such as the description of Crow Park as one of the extension areas.  However, even within these areas which I like to think I understand I haven’t been able to improve upon the original.  It is very strong throughout."

Monday 22 July 2019

Chiswick Curve Decision

The Secretary of State has overturned the Planning Inspector's decision on the Chiswick Curve. It has been thrown out.  I struggle with this statement that the inspector gave: 

"The use of pointillism in the glazed grid would act as a control that would bring the scale of the building closer to that of the buildings on the river frontage. "

What?!  As someone who studied pointillism as part of her first degree, this is the most peculiar phrase on which his decision should hinge.  Look at Nottingham Contemporary.  The 'filigree lace' effect does nothing to reduce its bulk.  

The Inspector's thoughts on Visual Representations are also troubling.  What's wrong with a full-frame camera and fixed 50mm lens? That's the industry-wide standard.  It's accepted best practice. 

Sunday 24 March 2019

Setting - Keswick in The English Lakes WHS

Hmmmmm..... How to express the concept of 'setting' and to deal with the vast wealth of evidence that I am finding related to Keswick.  It is quite mind-boggling in trying to synthesise how the setting of Keswick contributes to its significance.   Can or should we separate the 'setting' of Keswick Conservation Area (a concept defined in the planning guidance) from the wider concept of the Outstanding Universal Value of the English Lakes?   The guidance calls for it whilst the pressures of development exist.   The list of associations is immense:
Wordsworth, Shelley, Coleridge, Southey, Lamb, West, Farington, Turner, Wright, Ruskin, and so the list goes on......
and then there is Ebeneezer Howard, Canon Rawnsley, Keswick School of Industrial Arts...

Keswick as seen from Castlehead - © Mel Morris Conservation

Tuesday 19 March 2019


I have definitely not seen this before!  Amethyst and coral stuck into a gatepost.    Enjoying getting to know Keswick Conservation Area for the Lake District National Park.  I do love my job.

Monday 15 October 2018

Historic Skyline - Derby

Currently preparing a study of the historic skyline for Derby City Council.
The beautiful Cathedral Church of All Saints tower of 1532.

Bullsmoor Inquiry Decision out - Derwent Valley Mills WHS

Very happy with this decision and to have my expert witness testimony endorsed.  Development of mixed use and employment schemes dismissed and refused by Inspector and endorsed by the Secretary of State.  A good decision and valuable precedent, confirming the important contribution that the Buffer Zone can make as part of the setting of the World Heritage Site, and confirming that this part is a valued landscape.

Tuesday 13 February 2018

Chester Town Hall - gothic splendour

Just completing a programme of survey and assessment of Chester Town Hall for CWaCC, the splendid Grade II* building designed by William Henry Lynn and completed in 1869 in accordance with Ruskin's philosophy on 'Gothic' architecture.   Letters from the architect provide a fascinating insight into the client / architect relationship and reveal how, despite the intervening 150 years, his comments are as fresh as if he wrote them yesterday. A very enjoyable experience to get sucked into the detail of this building and discover its intricacies.

The Grand Staircase Hall with stained glass windows by Heaton Butler and Bayne