Shaftesbury’s greenstone walls need protecting. And that’s why Shaftesbury Civic Society has launched a project that will catalogue every wall that they feel should be preserved.
Civic Society Honorary Secretary Jackie Upton King believes that the use of this local stone enhances the town’s visual appeal. “It’s an almost overlooked aspect of Shaftesbury but those walls form a large part of the character of the town.”
Civic Society members have been concerned that some walls made of the traditional stone have been removed. “One or two of them have been lost recently with redevelopment or people shifting their driveways,” Jackie said. So SCS will monitor planning applications to see whether greenstone walls will be affected. “When planning applications come in for either modifications or extensions in the conservation areas where these walls feature prominently, we will make the point that those drive and garden walls are really important,” Jackie said.
Compiling this database will be a major project but Jackie says a Civic Society trustee is already working on the inventory and they’re not working alone. “It’s a big and slow job but he will be working with the Open Spaces Group. Within a year or two we will have a proper audit of the greenstone walls of Shaftesbury,” she said.
Some new members have joined Shaftesbury Civic Society recently and there have been some committee changes, with the recent appointment of Roy Mitchell as Chairman. Jackie says the group now intends to scrutinise development proposals regularly and make representation to authorities, when appropriate.
“We are fortunate in that we have a couple of people who can read plans and who can make proper comment on planning grounds,” said Jackie. “It’s important to say that we’re not always negative. We support innovation as well. We are not just about preserving the town in aspic.”
Jackie says she doesn’t want people to think that SCS want to stop modern architecture. “I think it is really important that we have good, innovative design that fits in with the character of Shaftesbury. The town calls itself a Saxon town but there’s nothing significant left from that era. A lot of Shaftesbury is Georgian. There are quite big blocks of Victorian development, too. The town has developed over time and that is what gives it character.”
But Jackie says new buildings need to be ‘sympathetic’ to their surroundings. She offers the recent architect-designed property on Park Walk as a good example of a newer building style fitting in well. “I suspect that most people don’t particularly notice it now. It has blended in, but it is a very modern design. It complements its surroundings,” she said.
The Shaftesbury Civic Society is hosting an open evening on Wednesday, 24th October. All locals are welcome. Jackie hopes that people who are passionate about Shaftesbury will attend and raise issues that they believe to be important. Jackie also wants to encourage younger blood and residents living on the newer, eastern side of town.
“In common with many organisations, we do find it disappointing that we don’t have as many younger people engaged with the work that we are trying to do. There is also a concern that the town is showing a tendency to split itself in half – that the newer areas don’t relate as well to what is going on in the town centre and the town centre does not relate to what is going on at the eastern side of town. It would be lovely if we could have people from those groups,” said Jackie, adding, “There are more silver-haired people than anything else at these meetings.”
The open evening will be at Shaftesbury Arts Centre at 7.30pm on Wednesday, 24th October. It includes talks from Shaftesbury’s Town Clerk, Claire Commons and Brie Logan. Brie is Shaftesbury Town Council’s Business Manager. The guests will discuss the challenges, constraints and range of their roles.