Cheltenham Plan Pre-Submission consultation

Pre-Submission Cheltenham Plan

9 Historic Environment


9.1 One of Cheltenham’s greatest assets is its architectural heritage, much of which is protected by conservation area designations. The town is very attractive to investors and developers which means there is considerable pressure for change. This needs to be carefully managed to protect buildings, trees, and the essential character of each street or place.

9.2 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (at Para 132) attaches ‘great weight’ to the conservation of heritage assets and their significance. Through the Historic Environment polices of the JCS and the Cheltenham Plan, the Council will protect, conserve and enhance the historic environment. Opportunities to better reveal the significance of heritage assets will be sought to ensure the historic environment plays an integral and positive role in place-making. Policy will support and seek to integrate the value of built heritage in enhancing the wider cultural and economic environment.

9.3 Further evidence and supporting information can be found in the Historic Environment Background Paper published separately.


9.4 The NPPF gives strong protection to the historic environment, recognising its cultural significance and the multiple ways it supports and contributes to the economy, society and daily life. In particular, it promotes an awareness and understanding of buildings and spaces and how they can:

  • connect people with their environment and heritage - creating a sense of place and identity, and helping people develop an attachment to their environment;
  • help people develop new skills and responsibilities through environmental and heritage volunteering;
  • help to get children learning outdoors about the places in which they live, bringing history alive and nurturing the next generations’ appreciation of the need to safeguard important buildings and spaces;
  • encourage and empower communities to protect historic environments that are important to them.

9.5 The Regency legacy in Cheltenham is the setting for people’s lives; it is where they live, work, shop and enjoy leisure and recreational activities. It is also an important draw for tourists.

9.6 Within this context, JCS Policy SD8 and the Cheltenham Plan set out a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the Borough’s historic environment and heritage assets, including those at risk through neglect, decay or other threats. It acknowledges that heritage assets are an irreplaceable resource and also the need to conserve them in a manner appropriate to their significance.

9.7 The Gloucestershire Historic Environment Record (HER) is the primary evidence base for decision-making on and future management of the historic environment. It is a dynamic record, constantly being updated and enhanced. The HER is supplemented by a range of local studies and resources such as Conservation Area Character Appraisals and Conservation Area Management Plans which contain wide-ranging information on the entire historic environment, including locally important, non-designated heritage assets. This comprehensive evidence base informs plan-making and decision-taking on planning proposals.

9.8 To ensure the conservation and enjoyment of the Borough’s Historic Environment, the Council will:

  • continue to contribute to the maintenance and enhancement of the Gloucestershire Historic Environment Record;
  • review and regularly update Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs), Conservation Area Appraisals and Management Plans;
  • where appropriate, designate additional Conservation Areas;
  • where appropriate, promote Article 4 Directions to protect Conservation Areas from harm as a result of permitted development;
  • periodically review the list of Locally Indexed Buildings
  • work with local communities to identify heritage assets at risk or vulnerable to becoming at risk, and support the development and implementation of local strategies to reverse and remove the risk by exploring opportunities to bring assets into viable use;
  • where necessary, employ appropriate enforcement measures;
  • produce and regularly review condition assessments for all heritage assets directly owned or managed by the Council;
  • seek opportunities for community engagement, education and outreach activities as part of the planning process;
  • prepare or support masterplans or design briefs for significant places or sites where major change is proposed in relation to the heritage assets affected;
  • promote and support bids for external funding designed to conserve and enhance the historic environment;
  • work with the Local Highways Authority and infrastructure providers to ensure that historic streets, townscapes and the public realm are designed to conserve and enhance the historic environment, having particular regard to the Borough’s Conservation Area Appraisals and related Management Proposals.


9.9 The Borough has a large number of heritage assets, both designated and non-designated, including Listed Buildings, Scheduled Monuments, Conservation Areas, Registered Parks and Gardens, and archaeological sites. All have been recorded in the Gloucestershire Historic Environment Record. There are also a number of other buildings, which have been identified as important such as those on the Index of Buildings of Local Importance, and ‘positive’ buildings within Conservation Areas.

9.10 Buildings and areas of architectural and historic interest make a valuable contribution to the character of the area, and the historic environment as a whole is important for its potential to increase knowledge; its value for leisure, education and tourism; and as a key economic driver. The historic environment is an irreplaceable resource; therefore every effort should be made to ensure appropriate protection and enhancement.

9.11 An appreciation of local distinctiveness in the built environment is founded on the understanding of the characteristics and influences of the locality. Understanding this can help to shape our modern communities, giving them a sense of history and distinct local identity whilst supporting sustainable development.

9.12 Development will be expected to complement and enhance the varied built environment, creating interesting and attractive buildings and places. It is important that new developments are designed to a high standard to ensure an attractive and functional place for people to live, work and visit; to deliver prosperity; and to help attract inward investment. The Council will use relevant Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plans to inform and guide any decision. These documents identify local distinctiveness and act as a valuable resource against which development proposals will be assessed.

9.13 Where applications are likely to affect a heritage asset or its setting, applications should be supported by a description of the asset’s historic, architectural and archaeological significance with an appropriate level of detail relating to the likely impact of the proposal on that interest. A site analysis identifying the qualities which contribute to local character, including development patterns, history, its landscape and views, and how these can contribute to the quality and sustainability of the proposed development should also be provided. This may include:

  • a built heritage assessment;
  • an assessment of significance;
  • a setting assessment; and
  • a heritage impact assessment.

9.14 Design should be based on an understanding of the characteristics of the local area, in terms of character, built form, architecture, heritage and landscape. Well-designed attractive places improve the quality of life for all, minimising the opportunity for crime and the perception or fear of crime, and enhancing the environment. At the same time it contributes to the development of safer, stronger and sustainable communities that can adapt to the challenges of a changing climate.


Planning permission will only be granted where it would involve the demolition of, or substantial alteration to, the external appearance of:

a) any building designated as being of local importance on the Local List, and
b) any non-designated heritage assets

when it can be demonstrated that:

c) all reasonable steps have been taken to retain the building, including examination of alternative uses compatible with its local importance; and

d) retention of the building, even with alterations, would be demonstrably impracticable; and

e) the public benefits of the redevelopment scheme outweigh the retention of the building.

Development proposals that would affect a locally important or non-designated heritage asset, including its setting, will be expected to conserve its significance, and any harm will be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal, including securing its optimum viable use.

This policy contributes towards achieving the Cheltenham Plan Vision: Theme A - objective a; Theme C - objective a.


9.15 In addition to buildings of local importance and non-designated heritage assets, there are other buildings and structures in the Borough which are of particular local importance for their distinctiveness or contribution to the visual or historic character of the area. Frequently, such buildings are within conservation areas, which provide protection from precipitate demolition. However, the demolition of non-residential buildings outside conservation areas is not subject to planning control. An Index of Buildings of Local Interest has been published and will be periodically reviewed. Where continuation of the original use is no longer feasible, the Council will support a change of use or, where appropriate, the inclusion of the building in a wider scheme of development.


There will be a presumption in favour of the physical preservation in situ of nationally important archaeological remains and their settings.

Development affecting sites of local archaeological importance will be permitted where the remains are preserved (Note 1):

a) in situ; or

b) by record, if preservation in situ is not feasible.

Where remains are to be preserved in situ, measures adequate to ensure their protection during construction works will be required.

This policy contributes towards achieving the Cheltenham Plan Vision: Theme C - objective a.

Note 1: The preservation in situ or the excavation and recording of remains prior to and during development should be supervised or undertaken by a competent archaeological organisation.


9.16 Development affecting the Borough’s important archaeological heritage must, wherever possible, preserve remains in situ and protect their settings. In instances where development affects sites of local archaeological importance and preservation in situ is not feasible, it will be important that these finite, non-renewable resources are appropriately recorded.

9.17 In considering planning applications affecting sites of known or potential archaeological interest, the Council will consult and be guided by the County Archaeologist and the Gloucestershire Historic Environment Record. In order to assess the archaeological implications of a proposed development, the Council may request a developer to commission an archaeological assessment and, where appropriate, request limited excavation before determining the planning application.


a) Advertisements and signs in conservation areas will be supported providing that they are appropriate in:

  • Type
  • Size
  • Colour
  • Illumination
  • Siting

b) And respect the character of the building, site and surrounding area, and be of an appropriately high standard of design, materials and finish.

c) The erection of advertisement hoardings will not be permitted.

d) Internally illuminated signage will not be permitted.

e) Projecting signs in the Promenade, Montpellier Walk, Montpellier Street, Montpellier Avenue and Queen’s Circus will be resisted.

This policy contributes towards achieving the Cheltenham Plan Vision: Theme A - objective a; Theme C - objective a.


9.18 Inappropriate and over-extensive signs and advertisements can be particularly damaging to the character of a conservation area. Consequently, the Council will exercise close control of advertisements in these areas; a particularly high standard of design, materials and finish will be required, and all advertisements will need to suit the particular character of a building and its surroundings. In assessing planning proposals for advertisements on buildings within conservation areas, the Council will have regard to relevant supplementary planning guidance.

9.19 As part of the drive to improve the amenity of conservation areas by preventing unnecessary and obtrusive advertisements, the Council will not permit the siting of advertisement hoardings within them.

9.20 Certain streets in commercial use in the Central Conservation Area are particularly vulnerable to advertising. In these areas, projecting signs will be resisted, although an exception may be made for traditional hanging signs to public houses.



9.21 In line with the provisions of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, the Council will designate conservation areas and undertake reviews of existing designated areas. Conservation Area Character Appraisals and Conservation Area Management Plans will be reviewed and drafted, and a series of consultation exercises, including public meetings, will be undertaken in order to inform the Character Appraisals and associated Management Plans. Once finalised the Appraisals and Management Plans will be adopted by the Council as Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs) in order to give the documents sufficient weight to inform decision making.


9.22 The Cheltenham Central Conservation Area is currently divided into 19 character areas in order to effectively analyse its diverse character. It is proposed to split up the conservation area into 19 individual conservation areas, so that the special character of each unique area can be appropriately identified.


Table 1: Proposed changes to the Central Conservation Area
Name Proposed Justification of boundary changes
Bath Road Character Area Bath Road Conservation Area N/A
Bayshill Character Area Bayshill Conservation Area N/A
College Character Area College Conservation Area N/A
Dean Close & Hatherley Park Character Area Dean Close Conservation Area. Change to boundary; both extension and omission.

Changes to the extent of the conservation area include the proposed expansion to include all the Dean Close School sports fields, as the inclusion of the whole of a key characteristic of the area would be more valuable in analysis of the conservation area.  Though the form of the Morris Court development is considered to have a negative impact on the conservation area due to its design being unsympathetic with the historic context, the proposed inclusion of the site would present the opportunity to influence any future development, with the aim of enhancing the character of the conservation area.  The inclusion of a row of striking Edwardian houses to the south of the area would enhance the architectural interest of the conservation area.

The suggested omission of an area centering on Hatherley Court is due to the surrounding late 20th century housing development having an appearance that is not in keeping with the prevalent special character of the conservation area.  The nearby Court Gardens public park is proposed to be excluded, as given its late formation as a public park it has limited historic significance.  It is considered that the omission of this part of the Conservation Area would give the area a more coherent character and appearance.
Eldorado Character Area Eldorado Conservation Area N/A
Fairview & All Saints Character Area Fairview & All Saints Conservation Area N/A
Lansdown Character Area Lansdown Conservation Area. Proposed extension to the boundary. The proposed extension of the Conservation Area includes a small area centring on Polefield House, in order to influence any future development on this site in a prominent location.
Leckhampton Character Area Leckhampton Conservation Area N/A
Lower High Street Character Area Lower High Street Conservation Area. Proposed extension. The proposed extension is in response to development that has taken place on the southern boundary of the area. 
Montpellier Character Area Montpellier Conservation Area N/A
Old Town Character Area High Street Conservation Area N/A
Pittville Character Area Pittville Conservation Area N/A
St. Luke’s Character Area St. Luke’s Conservation Area N/A
St. Paul’s Character Area St. Paul’s Conservation Area. Proposed omission. The omission of an area of late 20th Century buildings. It is considered that the omission of this part of the Conservation Area would give the area a more coherent character and appearance.
Suffolk Square Character Area Suffolk Square Conservation Area N/A
Sydenham Character Area Sydenham Conservation Area N/A
The Park Character Area The Park Conservation Area. Proposed extension. The addition of a section of Moorend Park Road into the Park Conservation Area would ensure that areas with historical and architectural similarities will be unified under the designation.  
The Suffolks Character Area The Suffolks Conservation Area N/A
Tivoli Character Area Tivoli Conservation Area N/A




9.23 No change


9.24 Proposed changes to the extent of the Conservation Area include an expansion at the western end of the area in order to provide the means to influence the design of any future development, and to offer protection to the street-scape and green space at a key location. Land to the east is proposed to be removed due to the form of the development being different from the rest of the conservation area.


9.25 The proposed expansion of the Prestbury Conservation Area would unify established boundaries and bring more cohesion to the designated area.


9.26 The omission of a development on a former garden nursery site is put forward as the design of the housing is different from that of the rest of the conservation area.


9.27 No change


9.28 No change



9.29 Ledmore Road contains houses that were specifically constructed as Foreign Office housing for the managerial staff of GCHQ. Given the architectural interest of the design and the historic significance of GCHQ in the town, a new conservation area is proposed in order to preserve the character and appearance of the area.


9.30 A compact area around Park Lane, Prestbury has historic interest due primarily to the moated site, and architectural interest due to the design of the buildings fronting Park Lane. It is proposed that the location be designated as a conservation area in order to preserve the historic and architectural significance.