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Bank Hall, Bretherton, Lancashire

Bank Hall has been slowly slipping into ruin since it was abandoned shortly after the Second World War. It is an early seventeenth century house, greatly extended and remodelled between 1832 and 1834 in a neo-Tudor style, probably to the designs of George Webster of Kendal. The bulk of its interior has now gone and its external envelope is now in an advanced state of disrepair. Over the last few decades the Group has resisted several unsympathetic schemes for the house which involved drastically reducing its size as well as large-scale building in its grounds. A new scheme, funded partly by the National Lottery and partly by a discreet enabling development of houses in nearby woodland, would see the hall converted to private apartments, with its shell restored along with the 1832 entrance hall, main hall and the clock tower, which still contains a fine but very decayed staircase. The walled garden would also be restored.

Our view
The scheme probably represents the last, best chance to save Bank Hall and we have not sought to amend it; indeed we have made a small contribution through our Cleary Fund to help with the restoration of the clock tower. The volunteers of the Bank Hall Action Group and the Heritage Trust for the North West should be commended for their valiant efforts over the past twenty years to save this important GII* listed mansion.


St John the Baptist, Knutsford

Outline plans for a large café/community building in the south churchyard of St John’s (1741-44 by John Garlive, or Gatlive),

Our view
We have objected on the grounds that any development on the scale proposed would be highly damaging to the setting of the church and to the character of the central Knutsford conservation area within which it stands. We are more relaxed about plans for the interior. The church was extended in 1879 to the designs of Alfred Darbyshire, whose chancel is a thoughtful piece of late nineteenth classicism; but his internal alterations within the main body of the church were less successful and have in any event been damaged by an unfortunate reordering of the west end in the 1970s. We have therefore been sympathetic in principle to a scheme to alter and reorder the nave, accepting that this would improve its present constricted and cluttered appearance.


Cockermouth after the flood

Negotiations have been taking place to ensure that the usual high standards of design and materials in conservation areas are not sacrificed during reconstruction in Cockermouth, the Cumberland town badly affected by flooding in 2009. Initial hopes that repair work would provide an opportunity to enhance some design aspects such as shop frontages and fascias were tempered by the appearance of PVC doors and windows, installed in the belief that these would provide better protection against future floods. The greater likelihood is that they will create moisture retention problems in the short to medium term, retarding the recovery process for historic buildings in conservation areas.

Our view
The Cockermouth Conservation Area Design Guide is clear on the matter of PVC and assurances are being sought that applications in contravention of adopted policies will be rejected.



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