Today, we received an open letter from a resident of Chester Green. They asked if we could share it, so here it is! These views do not, necessarily, match those of the residents association (we’re not sure why the Council is targeting the best looking shop frontage in Chester Green!), but if we all agreed on everything, the world would be a less interesting place. It’s difficult to disagree with the points raised, though…..
“There has been a lot of comment about the shutters on Robert Ashley Barbers, and whether they should be allowed to be retained.
I appreciate that this is a very difficult and emotive issue, and I would like to state immediately that I think that visually the shutters look perfectly acceptable.
However, the matter is a lot more complicated and important than the appearance of one shop.
Chester Green is a conservation area. The vast majority of the community of Chester Green support this, and are pleased to live in this pleasant area full of character. A conservation area requires all of us to ensure that any alterations to our property conform to rules regarding materials and design, and any changes to the property fronting the road have to be approved by the planning department of Derby City Council and the Conservation Area Advisory Committee. In 2009 the Little Chester Residents Association helped the Council to publish guidelines for residents and businesses within conservation areas, and these are freely available on the Council website.
The shutters on Robert Ashley’s were installed without planning permission, and were installed after they were warned that they would be in breach of planning regulations. A number of other businesses have installed shutters without permission, some of which are significantly less attractive. If Robert Ashley is allowed to keep his, how will the Council then be able to enforce removal of the other offenders? It cannot. If the Council cannot enforce compliance of the planning rules in this case, how can it ensure that the character of the area is retained at all?
As I said at the beginning , this is a very difficult matter, but I believe that the core issue is whether we want to retain the character of Chester Green or whether the concept of a conservation area should be completely abandoned.