What is a Conservation Area?

Ask local residents that question and the response is along the lines of “an area which has been specifically identified as warranting preservation”.

Ask the question of a developer regarding the Leatherhead Conservation Area and judging by a recent planning application the answer would be “the area where most future development must take place”.

So, we see it as an area of historical interest and a developer sees it as an opportunity to make money and in doing so completely alter a unique and verdant area by:

  • Demolishing a sound Victorian house which has been completely renovated within recent years
  • Removing at least 32 out of the 40 trees on site
  • Removing a stable which is over 100 years old – surely part of our heritage?
  • Replacing grassed land with tarmac and multiple flats and houses

That is what is proposed for 29 Church Road Leatherhead – planning references MO/2013/0193 & MO/2013/0192.  This imposing house in a Conservation Area (and under a special category of Conservation known as Article 4 (2) directions) is yet again the subject of a demolition application.

The Government’s National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF) confirms the importance of heritage assets and Conservation Areas and expects that applicants (developers) should work closely with people and communities that are directly affected by their proposals before an application is made. The NPPF acknowledges that it is a framework and that the detail is determined by the Local Authority. In the case of Mole Valley the local authority plans and the residents’ assessment of the Conservation Area are of one; the developer’s pitch is diametrically opposed.

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