Foulness Churchend Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan

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1. Introduction

1.1 Foulness is a remote estuarine island set in the Essex coastal marshes, and is one of a group of islands largely formed from reclaimed grazing marshland of medieval and post-medieval date. There are two villages in the north of the island, Churchend and the smaller hamlet of Courtsend. Churchend provides the focus for the island's only conservation area. Foulness has been controlled by the military for many years, and is used as a testing ground for munitions. In 2003 QinetiQ was awarded a contract to carry out this work, and access to the island is now managed by them. The MoD retains ownership of the island.

1.2 Conservation areas are 'Areas of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance' (Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990). Government Planning Policy Guidance 15, Planning and the Historic Environment, emphasises that the character of conservation areas derives not simply from the quality of individual buildings, but also depends on 'the historic layout of property boundaries and thoroughfares; on a particular "mix" of uses; on characteristic materials; on appropriate scaling and detailing of contemporary buildings; on the quality of advertisements, shop fronts, street furniture and hard and soft surfaces; on vistas along streets and between buildings; and on the extent to which traffic intrudes and limits pedestrian use of space between buildings' (para. 4.2).

1.3 Designation of a conservation area extends planning controls over certain types of development, including extensions, boundary treatments, the demolition of unlisted buildings and works to trees. However it does not prevent any change and the area may be subject to pressures (good and bad) that will affect its character and appearance. The remote and marshy location of Foulness, and its long history of control by the MoD, has largely protected the village of Churchend from alteration. However it still faces pressures for change that threaten the character of the village, including demand for modernisation and improvement of existing properties.

1.4 Rochford District Council commissioned Essex County Council to prepare this conservation area appraisal and the research and fieldwork were carried out in August 2006.

1.5 The appraisal provides a brief development history of the current settlement, followed by a description and assessment of character. The contribution of its different elements to the character is identified. Any issues which may affect the protection of character will be highlighted and opportunities for enhancement identified.

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