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Extracted from Nutbourne Conservation Area

December 1973

The Conservation Area

Nutbourne is a small linear village situated some 1.5 miles east of Pulborough in the Sussex Weald. The favourable topographical features of the locality - comprising gently sloping terrain of the Hythe Beds with its southerly aspect and soil readily suitable for cultivation, together with a constant supply of water - induced the establishment of a farming community, probably by the Saxons. At the time of the Doomsday Survey, the Manor of Nordbourne was rated at six hides and contained two mills. However, during succeeding centuries it developed only very gradually and today remains a small farming village.

The village street inclines northwards, and although developed on both sides, the general impression is of stone buildings and walls built up to the road frontage on the west, and grassed banks and hedges on the east, with The Street itself criss-crossed by overhead lines.

Represented in the village are various styles and periods of architecture, ranging from timber-framed cottages to modern red brick houses. However, all the buildings are of a simple domestic scale and it is this uniformity of scale together with the variety of their massing, design, detailing, texture and irregular positioning and spacing along the road frontage which gives the village its basic physical character. Stone is the predominant building material being used extensively for boundary walls as well as buildings, and so it is a unifying element within the street scene. The rural nature of The Street itself results from the presence of grassed verges and banks instead of separate pavements for pedestrians, together with the abundance of planting along the frontages of properties. This character, however has been lost in places by the formation of lay-bys to serve new development. These incursions into the street frontage, with their use of concrete and the rigidity of their design, are in harsh contrast to the mellow and irregular lines of the rest of The Street.

At its northern end, The Street divides into two, with the highway bending west then northwards through a cutting towards Gay Street and North Heath, whilst the other part bends east past the former school to become a non-metalled bridle road. This narrow track becomes a dark, damp passage being bordered by banks and overhung by trees, but in a short distance it suddenly emerges into a small valley containing a mill pond to the north and the stone former mill buildings to the south. In the east the valley is contained by a steep tree covered slope, whilst to the west are more gentle slopes with field boundaries defined by trees and bushes. The views outwards are restricted by the topography and as a result this valley is a distinctive environmental area, visually isolated from the village, but retaining clear evidence of its historical associations with the settlement. Generally, there is an air of tranquility which is in pleasing contrast to the more active atmosphere of The Street. In order that its secluded character can be retained and enjoyed, public access to the valley should continue to be limited to use of the claimed public rights of way.

A map showing the Nutbourne Conservation Area, as defined when it was set up on 3 December 1973. It still stands today.




The village of Nutbourne, together with the mill pond and its surrounds, as defined on the accompanying plan (illustrated, left courtesy of West Sussex County Council), was designated as a Conservation Area on 3rd December 1973.

Meanings and Objectives of Conservation

Many of the Centres of our old towns, villages and hamlets are in danger of losing their former character, mainly through the increase of pressures for development and the intrusion of the motor vehicle. It is necessary to recognise and plan to meet these changing requirements, for such settlements should acknowledge the spirit of our age while retaining their basic historic character. It is very easy for this character, which has been built up by so many generations, to be thoughtlessly neglected or destroyed.

In order, therefore, to retain this important aspect of our heritage, Local Planning Authorities are required under Section 277 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1971, to determine those areas of special architectural or historic interest which should be preserved or enhanced, and to designate them as Conservation Areas. Designation is not an award of merit - its purpose is top draw the attention of public bodies and private individuals to the necessity of maintaining and improving the character of the locality. Historic buildings and features of special merit should be retained; every opportunity should be taken to improve the appearance of buildings and spaces which at present conflict with the historic character of their setting, and any new development necessary to meet changing needs should be sensitively integrated into the environment.


The following general policies, which supplement those of the County Development Plan, have been adopted by the Local Planning Authority for use in guiding development proposals and other changes.

Historic Buildings. Buildings and other structures, of particular merit, are included in the statutory List of buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. The preservation of these structures is essential. Owners are required to maintain them in a good state of repair and will be encouraged to reinstate former architectural features where appropriate. Other structures, of merit or of group value, which contribute towards the character of the Conservation Area, are shown as being recommended for inclusion in the statutory List or to be otherwise protected.

Alterations to Structures. Any alterations or additions to existing buildings must be sensitively designed and constructed of sympathetic materials in order to retain or emphasise the historic appearance of the building.

Uses. It is intended that existing uses within the village shall, for the most part, remain undisturbed.

New Structures within the Conservation Area. Any new buildings within the Conservation Area should acknowledge the character of the environment, especially in their form, scale and materials, and not be unduly assertive so that the historic buildings remain dominant. Schemes for the treatment of the spaces around new buildings, as for example hard surfaces, planting, walls, etc. must similarly, in terms of material and design, accord with the character of the Conservation Area.

Spaces about Buildings. A basic element contributing towards the character of the area is the size and arrangement of spaces about buildings which varies from narrow lanes to the more open street. These characteristic spaces should be maintained and enhanced where necessary by the sensitive use of indigenous materials and planting.

Planting and Surfaces. Existing trees and hedgerows which are a feature of the Conservation Area should be retain and properly cared for, and, if necessary, Tree Preservation Orders will be made. Where tree felling cannot be avoided replanting may be required.

Any new surfacing required for hard standing should be designed to be as unobtrusive as possible.

Materials. The predominant use of the local stone contributes towards the area's distinctive character and so this material should be retained in its natural form and not be colour washed, rendered, or otherwise obscured. Furthermore, the colours of painted surfaces should emphasise the natural building materials rather than detract attention from them.

Road Works and Street Furniture. Any road improvement schemes, or the introduction of street furniture, which are essential, should be so designed and sited as to cause the minimum visual impact on the street scene.

Overhead Lines. Efforts will be made to secure the replacement of overhead lines, which are obtrusive in the village scene, by underground cables.

Setting of the Conservation Area. Any new development adjacent or visually related to the conservation area must be designed so as not to conflict with the aesthetic qualities of that area.


Public participation in the implementation of these policies is envisaged in order that a positive overall programme of conservation may be carried out as opportunities and resources permit. Sensitively designed co-ordinated schemes and wise investment in public works is a pre-requisite for creating confidence and encouraging initiative for general involvement in conservation. A three year campaign of urban conservation is to culminate in the 1975 declared "European Architectural Heritage Year". Practical action is called for in order to ensure its success and it is hoped that positive schemes will be implemented by 1975.

Legislation in respect of conservation areas is contained in the Town and Country Planning Act, 1971, and the Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Act, 1972. Under the provisions of these Acts publicity has to be given to any application for planning permission where the proposed development would affect the character of the conservation area, and all representations received are considered before the application is determined. In addition, anyone who wishes to undertake the demolition, or alteration in such a manner as to affect the character, of a building listed as being of Special Architectural or Historic Interest must apply for listed building consent. These applications are also advertised. Should it become necessary to exercise control over the demolition of building snot at present statutorily listed but which contribute towards the essential character of the area, consideration will be given to the making of a statutory direction so that consent would have to be obtained to demolish these buildings.

Owners of listed buildings have a statutory duty to maintain them in a good state of repair. Limited funds are set aside by the planning authorities to provide financial aid towards the cost of essential structural repairs. In addition, Central and Local Government funds may be available for certain improvement schemes within conservation areas which would otherwise be beyond local financial resources. Advice should be sought on the availability of grants from the Planning Authority, who will also be pleased to give advice on any proposals which would affect the appearance of the conservation area whether or not they would require planning permission.

County Planning Officer, County Hall, Chichester
© West Sussex County Council

© Copyright Nutbourne Residents Association and friends, 2016.