Stoke Newington Church Street as a Conservation Area

Stoke Newington Church Street is now in a Conservation Area. The map shows that Clissold Park and both churches were already in a Conservation Area but the new Area meant an important change of status for Church Street. Grants became available for the restoration of the old buildings. These not only encouraged owners, but imposed good architectural manners on them and the public became very interested in the appearance and quality of the area. It is pleasant to see how the old street gradually regained some of its lost dignity. It was very run down in the eighties.

This improvement was not achieved by a sudden, dramatic sweep but by a series of small, careful measures. Preserving, repairing and cleaning the buildings; using suitable materials; keeping to the existing roof heights and windows; removing recent additions which obscured the buildings; developing a shop‑fronts policy and design guide; redecorating in suitable colours; were all important.

At the same time there have been other changes. Local house prices rose dramatically, altering the population. People shop weekly instead of daily, and far away, so some of the small local shops have gone. There has been a huge increase in the number of restaurants and boutiques have appeared, and often disappeared. The nature if the street has altered but the buildings remain. One can see elaborate door-cases that Defoe watched being fitted; window and roof details which are to be found in eighteenth century pattern books; and unchanged roof lines.

Teachers at the Cavendish School and the Hertfordshire Association of Architects and Teachers at the Urban Studies Centre, Stevenage, are evolving some most interesting work. I am grateful to them for the following ideas.

One short course asks 14‑15 year old pupils to design a building to fill a gap in an existing streetscape. This was a real gap in a real street. Pupils could go and study it. Other ones will be found for future years.

The `Client' states his requirements in a Design Brief‑ a shop with storage and office space. The client is quite clear in his mind: he wants to sell shoes.

The `Architect' (pupil) has to design a building which will satisfy the client but be acceptable to the planners. The street is in a Conservation Area (just like Stoke Newington Church Street). The new building must fit in with the rest of the street. The pupil is faced with the real‑life problem of reconciling the need of his client to sell shoes and the requirements of the planners who must preserve an amenity.

Obviously, no pupil could tackle this problem without a lot of preliminary help. There are talks by architects and visits to the site.

The Cavendish School, Hemel Hempstead and Herts Educational TV. Service have made a video tracing the procedure followed in the design of a building to fill a `gap‑site' in Hemel Hempstead, from the developer's initial ideas; his consultations with the architect, and the architect's consultations with the planning officer. At all three stages the scheme changes significantly, culminating in a design that will go forward to the Planning Committee.

The Video is available to schools through the Hertfordshire Schools Library Service (Nuffield Resources Centre, Rowans, Welwyn Garden City) or by contacting Herts. Educational Television Unit, Goldings, North Road, Hertford.


The Leaf Border

Sketches and Photographs

Updated: March 27, 2021