Love your local heritage? Here's your chance to have a say and help us protect local heritage

Fenland residents are being asked to identify which buildings, structures, archaeological sites and landscapes help make their local communities special as part of a local heritage project.

March Broad Street 2

Fenland District Council is taking part in a new Local Listing project for Cambridgeshire, along with the county council, and four other district councils.  The project was awarded funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (now the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) which invited councils in England to create pilot projects for Local Heritage Lists in their areas.

March Broad Street 2

Fenland has a distinct character with many locally important heritage assets, which are valued by residents and contribute positively to the district's character and identity, have local historic associations, are local landmarks or are important to the local community. Shaped by the historic wetland landscape our most historic market towns and villages are those which are on islands of higher ground. Whittlesey has a characterful mix of 17th, 18th and 19th century development with it's iconic mud walls; Chatteris has more of a traditional medieval settlement pattern with a linear centre, street fronting properties and long burgage plots, yards and former to the rear; Wisbech is famed for its Georgian architecture and planned Crescent development, built on its wealth as an inland port; March is different again, with its 20th century expansion arising from its role as a major railway employer and junction of national and strategic importance.

For many years the national listing system has recognised buildings of national importance, by designating buildings as grade 1, 2* and 2,  as well as maintaining a schedule of monuments and a register of parks and gardens, battlefields and even wreck sites.   Local Heritage Lists aim to identify buildings and heritage assets which, whilst not meeting the national criteria, are important at a local level. By adding these heritage assets to Local Heritage Lists their local importance will be officially recognised in the planning process.

Unlike Listed Building or Conservation Area designation, Local Listing does not affect your Permitted Development Rights in any way. There is no separate process of consent, as there is with Listed Building Consent. Where Planning Permission is required in any case, local listing will be a material consideration under Local Planning Policy. This does not prevent change, but instead helps ensure that the significance of the asset is recognised.

Matt Wright, Fenland High Street Projects Officer said: "Local heritage provides a vital contribution to how a place is perceived by users. It can often be a defining factor in the unique experience of people using and visiting a place and helps to leave a lasting impression. As part of the major redevelopment works for March, funded through the Future Highstreets Fund, FDC are looking to highlight and refocus the town around some of its most defining historic features, such as the memorial and historic fountain."

A new website has been launched with guidance on how you can get involved in the initiative and nominate buildings and archaeological sites to be considered for the Local List, which will recognise their importance and help preserve them.

The Project Officer, Jessica Johnston said "We are really keen to find out what local heritage assets people think are important and in particular to hear from a wide range of people from across the community. Please do come and find me at the March St George's Day Fayre where I will be manning a stand with hands on activities for people to find out more about the project, the history of their local area, and archaeological finds relating to March"  

The nominations will be considered by an assessment panel comprised of local project volunteers, and heritage professionals to check that they satisfy the criteria for selection. These selected candidates will be taken forward by the individual District Councils for adoption on to a Local List. Once adopted these Lists will be published on this project website and each of the District Council's websites.

For more information visit the Cambridgeshire Local Heritage List website or email Project Officer jessica.johnston@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Article date: April 2022

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