Milton Society welcomes Hamlet Court Calling

Milton Society is proud to be a leading supporter and driving force of the Hamlet Court Calling project, working to bring about renewal and regeneration in Hamlet Court Road, Westcliff-on-Sea. The project has the support of traders, residents and community groups as well as the Government’s High Street Task Force and Southend City Council.

The road has amazing heritage in its architecture and history but now it needs us all to help build a brilliant and sustainable new future, where businesses can thrive, residents can live happily and safely, and visitors can enjoy a renewed and upbeat environment. The project is fizzing with ideas from small quick wins to longer terms big goals. This includes a live crowd funding project to bring back the Christmas / festive season lights in the road which you can contribute to here

Find out more about Hamlet Court Calling at

Milton Society calls for ‘wider area’ conservation designation review in Hamlet Court

30 October 2023

Milton Society has applied to Southend City Council for a review of their 2021 decision not to designate the so called ‘wider area’ of Hamlet Court as a conservation area. The area includes lower Hamlet Court Road, Ditton Court, Preston and Cossington Roads. This follows the 92.5% survey support from the public for wider designation.

New evidence of the importance of local Edwardian architecture has resulted from a survey of local turrets which, in Southend, all centre on Hamlet Court Road and the neighbouring Leas area.

And numerous mistakes and falsehoods have been uncovered from the earlier Council considerations.

We hope that a review can lead to the designation of all of Hamlet Court Road (south of London Road) and the surrounding roads to help protect and regenerate the area, attracting new initiatives and heritage funding to the area.

A comprehensive document has been put forwards and the Leader of the Council has been asked to back up the Conservatives spring 2023 election manifesto commitment to designate.

Watch this space as further developments unfold…..

Hamlet Court Road Public Survey – Results

The results of the public survey carried out this spring have now been collated and are published here: HAMLET COURT ROAD PUBLIC SURVEY – RESULTS

The unattributed results are fairly lengthy but can can be understood quite quickly. A summary is included at the beginning. The results include all of the unattributed public comments which make interesting reading.

These results will be issued to the High Street Task Force and Southend City Council to assist in the evidence base for future regeneration.

Thank you to all who gave their views and especially to those who indicated they would like to support and join Milton Society.

If you have any comments to make please drop an email to

A new local Society is formed…

A new local Society was created at the recent AGMs of Hamlet Court Conservation Forum and Milton Conservation Society. It is to be called Milton Society and in due course this website will be updated to reflect the new group and describe our activities. Essentially the main work will continue in and around the local conservation areas of Milton, Shorefields and Hamlet Court but we will also be looking to assist the heritage of the local Milton area. More to follow soon…

Hamlet Court Conservation Forum considers merger

HCCF is to consider and vote on a merger with Milton Conservation Society at its AGM on 26th October 2022 at 7.30pm at the YMCA Hub in St John’s Road, Westcliff. This exciting possibility has been considered throughout the summer and can bring significant advantages for both groups, most notably describing a far wider working area of support for local heritage in the Milton Westcliff area. Information can be shared and best practice encouraged in caring for our wider built environment. It would also bring other advantages including the opportunity for the membership to grow and the sharing of resources and costs. Hopefully this will open up better opportunities for regeneration projects locally. The proposed constitution can be seen here.

More details will be explained at the HCCF AGM for members of HCCF and Milton Conservation Society.

Hamlet Court Calling

Thanks to all those who supported our recent ‘Hamlet Court Calling’ event. With the help of The Haven Community Hub and 12 local traders we displayed around 60 Edwardian photographs in Hamlet Court Road. This created a great deal on interest in the history of our local area with a good deal of wonderful feedback reaching us. Many of you took advantage of the opportunity to purchase a photograph or two and we have been asked about the future availability of smaller copies which are now considering. More news on this will follow.

We also had a very interesting talk at the Hub by local historian Ian Yearsley, titled ‘Westcliff-on-Sea: A Century of Change 1921-2021’.

Our thanks go out to the participant business as follows:

Westcliff Wools

Love & Kisses

Ramen + Chill

Dream Yard

The Board Game Hut

Margaret Raymond

Mile and a Third

The Hamlet Court

Ramsey Moore

Smart Vision

Adonia Spa

Simon Christopher

How a Conservation Area is not restricting

March 2021

The possible conservation area designation of either the north end of Hamlet Court Road (HCR), south of London Road, or of a wider area including all of HCR, Preston, Ditton Court, Cossington and part of Canewdon Road is currently out to public consultation. If you live locally you may have received a letter recently from an anonymous ‘resident’ suggesting that conservation designation ‘can mean many restrictions’. This is misleading and here we’ll try to explain each of the claims.

Please note planning rules can be complicated and will depend upon the exact planning rules in place in the area. Below is only general comment and we would always advise that as it is the local authority who make the decisions they are best placed to advise on individual cases.

A house in Milton Conservation Area with a large modern extension to the rear

The first response to the claim is that the implication of living with difficulty is quite wrong. There are around 10,000[1] conservation areas nationally, from sophisticated urban areas to simple rural and coastal settlements, some very modest. Nowhere across these areas will you find a public outcry of injustice. Conservation areas work and are generally welcomed and supported by residents, businesses and local authorities. Yes, there are differences as to how town planning works in a conservation area but you will see that these are not restrictive.

The incorrect or misleading claims are that restrictions will generally apply to:

1  Changes to your windows Repairs to windows do not require consent. If you wish you change your windows on a like for like basis, timber replacing timber, steel replacing steel or uPVC replacing uPVC these changes are usually permissible and have consistently been agreed in next door Milton Conservation Area. Yes, you probably will need to make a planning application for alternative changes as it is common for what are called Article 4 Directions to remove permitted development rights for windows, in protecting a conservation area. Generally, uPVC windows replacing original timber windows will not receive planning consent in a conservation area. Many people would not consider this a restriction.

However, in 2005 the World Wildlife Fund published ‘Window of Opportunity’ which showed that timber windows compare far more favourably than uPVC windows when comparing life costs, length of service life, environmental harm (PVC releases poisons when incinerated) and waste. Later, in 2013, a university report[2] found that timber windows are carbon negative (i.e. not contributing to CO² growth), last more than twice as long uPVC (60 years compared to 20-25 years – although many historical timber windows last for over 100 years due to the quality of the timber used at the time) and have lower life cycle assessment impacts than uPVC. uPVC windows are also not maintenance free, a common misconception. Whilst the purchase cost is less (hence the attraction and growth of the uPVC window market) the opposite is true in terms of life cost and environmental sustainability. Therefore, in 2021, when society is working towards a carbon neutral future, the likely refusal of planning permission for uPVC windows in a conservation area may not be considered a restriction.

A single dwelling in Milton Conservation Area with parking at the front

In nearby Milton Conservation Area most people understand about not replacing timber windows with uPVC and this is widely accepted. This planning control is not seen as a restriction.

2  Installing solar panels Solar panels are likely to require consent and this may not be given to street facing roof slopes but are likely to be permitted for rear facing roof slopes. Given that beautiful roofs are an important part of a conservation area this is not surprising.

3  Demolishing part of the property Demolition of small parts of a property do not require consent. Consent is required if you wish to demolish a property of 115 cubic metres or more, which almost never happens in a conservation area. Consent is also required for demolition of a wall or fence more than 1m next to a highway or 2m elsewhere. This is to protect historic enclosures but consent has been given for well designed alterations to front gardens across England, including for vehicular hardstanding – as can be seen in the illustrations here.

4  Building new walls or extensions Interior changes do not require consent (except that Building Regulations may apply, as is universal). Small changes and extensions at the rear of properties do not generally need consent as is the case across the whole country, with slightly different size limits before consent is required in conservation areas. Larger extensions will need consent but some of the most modern extensions are built at the rear of properties in conservation areas. Street boundary walls are a little different and may require consent where an Article 4 Direction (see 1 and 3 above) applies.

A large house in Milton Conservation Area divided into flats with parking at the front and rear

5  Laying paving No consent is required for paving (although suitable drainage is a requirement). Planning consent is normally required for a vehicular hardstanding but this is more to do with the vehicle than the paving (see answer 3 above).

6  Cutting trees. You will need to give notice (free of charge) of works to trees but this is almost always agreed by the local authority. Trees in conservation areas need to be maintained like anywhere else and local authorities understand and support this. If you wish to completely remove a significant tree in a conservation area, usually one contributing to the character of the area, you are likely to need consent. Removing trees in back gardens is usually permitted.

A conservation area is there is protect the heritage of the past. Yes there are different controls but these are not restrictions and many forms of development are perfectly possible.

[1] Historic England

[2] Dr Gillian Menzies, Institute for Building and Urban Design, Herriot Watt University, June 2013, Whole Life Analysis of timber, modified timber and aluminium clad timber windows: Service Life Planning, Whole Life Costing and Life Cycle Assessment

The Economic Case for Conservation Area Designation to all of commercial Hamlet Court Road

This message put to our Borough Councillors today – 14/2/21

The Economic Case for Conservation Area Designation to all of commercial Hamlet Court Road

When I asked a question at Full Council in December about the potential for heritage led economic regeneration the Portfolio Holder correctly pointed to the law and the consideration that designation should only be in terms of architectural or historical special interest. Of course we understand this. But the economic question is huge and will be crucial to existing and future traders in the road and wider area, the residents locally and indeed the future prospects for the centre of our town. Members have quite rightly asked this question in Place Scrutiny and Full Council, without a proper answer. The answer that came back to my question referred, at paragraph 6.3.12 of the draft appraisal, to reduced vacancy as the area becomes more attractive in which to live and work and the potential for grant funding and regeneration schemes. At paragraph 6.3.13 this potential was extended to communities to take this forward.

That was it. Nothing further. No reference to any wider study nor report. This is simply grossly inadequate and certainly not what many other towns across England are doing and not matching the guidance being given by Government, institutions and many heritage and business experts.

Historic England have made the case in the last two years for the importance to the economy of heritage in their documents ‘Heritage and the Economy 2019’ and ‘…2020’. These can be seen here:

and here

This is the front cover to the 2019 document (the cover of the 2020 document is similar). Notice that it is not of a stately home, a castle nor cathedral but of a road that could easily be Hamlet Court Road. This is because this is exactly where most heritage impacts on society, in our high streets. It is also why the Government are giving such attention to historic high streets in their High Street Heritage Action Zone programme.

The documents cite the Nobel Prize winning economist, Robert Merton Solow who said that “over the long term, places with strong, distinctive identities are more likely to prosper than places without them.

Every place must identify its strongest, most distinctive features and develop them or run the risk of being all things to all persons and nothing special to any”. It goes on to say that the historic environment can be a cornerstone of the economic and social revival of our towns and cities.

The documents are very comprehensive with significant economic benefits described as resulting from investment in heritage. Points made include:

  • Business in historic buildings is growing and historic places are increasingly attractive to business (+154% since 2012)
  • Heritage influences the location choices of business, attracting highly skilled and highly educated workers
  • Heritage enhances business opportunities (over 60% of business in historic building were established in last 3 years)
  • Heritage shapes people perceptions and authentic experience of places (81% in survey agreed that everyone should experience beauty)
  • Investing in the historic environment can successfully increase footfall and reduce vacancy rates
  • Much heritage potential is still untapped
  • Cumulative growth of heritage employment has outstripped the rest of the economy (+19% compared to +11%)
  • Heritage GVA is a growing part of the national economy, greater than that of Arts & Culture, Aerospace, Defence and Security.
  • Heritage creates construction jobs including new skilled positions
  • The Total Economic Value is greater than the sum of the parts, with cultural, social and economic benefits. Heritage is a major contributor to wellbeing.
  • Heritage has the ability to contribute to a new greener, circular economy
  • Heritage is inherently sustainable and an integral part of a low carbon economy and the UK’s carbon neutral commitments
  • Refurbishment and retrofitting emits less carbon than a new building. “The greenest building is one that already exists”.
  • Heritage regeneration leads to inclusive growth. Investing in a people centred approach to heritage – one that benefits all levels of society – could potentially help foster social inclusion.

Elsewhere we have also referred to the great market potential of the wide expanse of lower Hamlet Court Road in a brilliant document by the Institute of Place Management called ‘Markets Matter’. This can be seen here:

In short, the regeneration of all of commercial Hamlet Court Road into a new, mixed use but economy focussed live, work and play environment could not only see the complete uplifting of opportunity for all and a massive improvement to this socially deprived part of the town (2nd decile on the Indices of Deprivation) but lead the way in Southend’s own 2050 aspirations.

We want to see all of commercial Hamlet Court Road benefit from the improved building quality, improved homes and improved businesses – within the identity that is Westcliff-on-Sea.

Where Hamlet Court Road is right now is the sum of the past, especially the recent past. A past devoid of heritage attention that is now desperately needed, but where a future offers a golden opportunity. To reiterate, we know that the decision to designate the area rests lawfully on the architectural and historical special interest and how this has been assessed but the potential for heritage led economic benefit is nothing less than far reaching.

Yours sincerely,

Andy Atkinson MSc FRSA


Hamlet Court Conservation Forum