Open Letter from a Resident about Shutters!

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. 

Mark Davis”

2 thoughts on “Open Letter from a Resident about Shutters!

  1. I agree with the points raised. However in my opinion I don’t think it boils down to

    “whether we want to retain the character of Chester Green or whether the concept of a conservation area should be completely abandoned. “

    I understand that the business took extra care to ensure the shutters were as close as possible to the requirements of the conservation area in the absence of planning permission (which I understand was informally approved and not formally agreed for a substantial period of time)

    I am a local resident and am not upset by the presence of the shutters, particularly as the previous owners suffered substantial damage to the front window on more than one occasion which looked far more unsightly than the current shutters. We pride ourselves on community spirit, unfortunately there are a number of individuals who take advantage of the area and I understand the proprietors wanting to protect their assets. We must respect the proprietors due regard to both security and fitting in with the aesthetics of the conservation area. Don’t forget that this company invigorate our community through successful business and community spirit. I for one would not be without them!!

  2. Dear Mark

    Thank you for your comments.

    We both as individuals and as a business support and become actively involved in the Chester Green community.

    We agree the shop fronts on a number of businesses have taken advantage

    Just to correct a couple of points you made. The original Conservation officer some 2 years ago made suggestions as to what the alterations to the shop front this included the windows and shutters. She even made recommendations as to the design and type of shutter to be installed. We were never “warned” as you put it that these were in breach of planning regulations. The discussions we had were both open and constructive and we observed all the recommendations. At one point there was confusion advice on whether or not the shutters required full planning or just an amendment. As we had conformed to everything that was requested by the Conservation officer and no definitive advice was given re planning the shutters were installed per the discussions (even down to perforations and being powder coated the same colour as the sidings).

    We took into consideration the planning guidelines which also clearly state where they are security requirements.

    It was not until after their installation that the recommendation came through that a full application was required. Which we duly did, some nearly two years later, to our shock the decision to refuse was made.

    If such attention to the scope and nature of the planning laws had been given to other shop fronts that have been in situ for several years perhaps the area would, we agree with you, look that much better. I would ask how will the planners enforce the removal of these shutters at this stage.

    We think the concept of a Conservation Area should not be abandoned at all. But perhaps looked at and enforced in a less prescribed and inflexible way that gives both what the Conservation area wants as well as maintaining the needs of the business. I would ask do you want to see a smashed shop front (which happened on three separate occasions) and as has happened to the new tandoori window near the Pub. Or shutters that are in keeping to the high quality finish of barbers shop that not only serves the local community but brings people to the area.

    Feel free to come and have a chat we are always open to working with the community and will do so in the future.

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