A key focus of the Society is to keep watch on the weekly planning applications for the town of Maldon, especially its historic centre, and also its immediate surroundings including Langford and Heybridge.
As well as trying to ensure our many buildings of historic or public interest are protected, we seek to ensure that any new developments are appropriate to their visual context and the needs of the town.
How viable is the High Street?
Of particular interest is sustaining the commercial viability of the High Street. At each monthly meeting of the Society a brief verbal update is given on planning applications of likely interest and key town issues, with a display of plans and other information for perusal before and after the meeting.
Your opinion matters
Comments from members and visitors are welcomed. When appropriate, a representative will write to the District Council and will attend relevant town and district meetings to ensure our independent public view is voiced.
Latest news from around the town
An extract from the Society's Spring newsletter on Planning by David Smye, our planning representative, is shown below:
There have been several planning applications in Maldon in the past few years that involved what are called Live/Work units.
The term ‘Live/Work’ entered the language in the 1970s, coined to develop and market loft-style apartments in New York’s SoHo area. A valuable commodity was created from the unpromising raw material of generally disused, semi-derelict factories and warehouses located in an area with minimal infrastructure, lacking schools, health facilities, shops or other local amenities.
The UK home-based workforce is growing rapidly (accelerated by the Coronavirus pandemic); this means the number of Live/Work dwellings is likely to increase in the near future and there may be many more planning applications which may begin to alter the traditional High Street environment. Whether this is for the better or not, the Maldon Society needs to consider how to approach such proposals.
The rise of the internet, telecommuting, and even teleconferencing has created unprecedented opportunities and demand for home office and small, at-home businesses. This use will typically fall within the C3 Use Class (i.e. predominantly residential). However, these uses are most often ‘office-based’ functions that have no impact upon neighbours. Live/Work units within areas zoned for residential are generally not problematic, provided specific uses are determined and adhered to. The present ‘work from home’ dictate during the pandemic has not, it seems, caused any outcry from disgruntled neighbours.
To ensure continued and comprehensive retail shopping and commercial uses in our High Street and adjacent areas the introduction of widespread changes of use with an element of Live/Work thrown in to persuade planners that the historic use is being maintained will deplete the numbers of premises available for ‘legitimate’ retail/commercial uses. Is this a bad thing or do we have too many shops/offices in the present economic climate?
Where such developments are proposed within the central business area (High Street and adjacent streets) then we need to make sure that appropriate conditions are imposed that will allow the local authority to control the use, hours of operation, safety measures, noise controls, etc. of the work element to minimise disruption to any other residents within the building and business owners. The applications that we have seen recently feature very cramped accommodation – both the work element and the residential space. The floor areas available to both elements should provide adequate storage and sanitary arrangements for each.
The idea of an artisan living over the workshop strikes a nostalgic chord with a vision of a local craftsperson/artist offering a more personal and local service, and we need to encourage that but ensure that the accommodation is satisfactory for all users of the property and their neighbours.
The Maldon Society will continue to scrutinise the proposals for local developments and alert you to those that will most impact upon our environment or the vitality of the town.