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Great Dunmow Town Design Statement - Design guidance for enhancing and protecting the character of Dunmow.

The Character Areas

The choice of character areas in Dunmow is in practice quite difficult. After much deliberation the simple approach of basing it on building phases has been adopted as it is this in general that can be said to determine the character. The obvious exception is the town centre which we have taken to be the conservation area. The descriptions that follow and that are given in greater details in the appendix thus follow this structure. In addition to the built areas there are very significant areas of green space both within and forming the setting of the town which have been briefly described in the preceding section. The point was made there that the importance of some of these cannot be overstated. They will be touched on where relevant in the character areas section following but will be given their own section in the guidelines that follow.

The description and analysis of the character\areas follows the structure outline below:

  • The main types of building and materials
  • Key features
    • Trees
    • Open space
    • Floorscape – paving etc
    • Signs
    • Boundaries
    • Building types
    • Building height
    • Materials
    • Roof
    • walls
    • Windows
  • The issues – change/no change/improvement/deterioration.

Suggested design principles for:

    • New development
    • Changes or extensions
    • enhancements

The character areas chosen are as follows;

  1. High Street – Stortford Road- New Street-Mill Lane-The Close
  2. North Street – The Causeway
  3. Church  End
  4. The Downs – Beaumont Hill
  5. The Avenue – Station Road
  6. Oakroyd Avenue – Highfields – St Edmunds Lane – Millfields – Newton Green
  7. Tenterfields – High Stile – Woodview - Normansfield
  8. Lukins Drive – High Meadow – The Maltings – Harris Green- Granary Court-Haslers Lane
  9. Woodlands Park
  10. Industrial Estates

This part of the character assessment relates to High Street from Station Road in the south to and Market place in the north then extending to Stortford road as far as Rosemary lane and North Street as far as its junction with the Downs/Rosemary Lane. It makes up a large part of the conservation area and represents the early modern town as it existed at the end of the 19th Century. The underlying structure as we have demonstrated above is more ancient and it reflects both the roman and mediaeval origins of Dunmow.

This is a linear and interconnected series of spaces with Market Place, not a formal space but an enlarged street, at its centre. The space is created by buildings for the most part two storeys high built at the back of a footway. The proportions of the space created – the ratio of building height to width of street -is important. The space curves this way and that so that there are few if any vistas. Views are closed by the curving façade of building or as in the case of Market Place by buildings projecting at right angles. This meandering pattern reflects the pre urban routes and the gradual evolution of a multitude of plots.

Within this overall pattern there is very great complexity. This comes from the variation in heights, façade materials, features such as windows and doors, roof shapes and roofing materials. There is no dominant style from any period. Whilst the majority of building structures are probably 17th or 18th century there are numerous examples of later fronts being applied and there are a few more modern buildings; none of which, it has to be said, distinguish themselves. The diversity in style and appearance is of course multiplied by the mix of uses. This is the town centre and there is a variety of commercial and retail frontages with a number of surviving residential properties. This in turn produces the activity and movement. Pedestrians on the one hand and vehicles serving the commercial premises much of which takes place from the main routes.

There are no outstanding architectural buildings in the centre but a number of prominent and highly attractive buildings nonetheless. The Old Town Hall, Starr Inn, Saracens Head and the Dunmow Club for instance. Other buildings of great value such as the hall on the west side of High Street and the priest houses and chapel referred to above are harder to appreciate as they are hidden behind modest and altered facades.

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