Parks, leisure and the arts Albert Square Conservation Area

Control of development

Albert Square is the civic heart of the city, where frequent functions take place, and the new paving was designed to accommodate the gathering of large crowds.

Besides civic buildings and spaces, there is also much commercial property in the conservation area.

The Town Hall and its extension are the most dominant buildings in the area, and any proposals should respect these landmark buildings.

Proposed new development should incorporate a mix of uses in the building, especially including active ground floor uses in order to maintain the liveliness of the streets. In places where existing buildings have narrow frontages, it is important that new proposals maintain similar dimensions. This will ensure that a vertical rhythm in the 'street wall' is maintained when viewed in perspective. The height, scale, colour, form, massing and materials of new buildings should relate to the existing context of high quality buildings and complement their character.

Existing buildings within the conservation area exhibit a wide variety of styles, but they also have a common unity which designers of new and refurbished buildings would be advised to acknowledge. Designers should be aware of proportion and rhythm in their buildings and also differentiate between a ground floor, a middle portion and a top part which is interesting enough to create a varied skyline, in order to enhance the area.

As in other parts of the city centre, new development proposals should generally be aligned to the back of the pavement in order to preserve the linear character of streets and to preserve the subtlety which is generated by minor changes in angle of existing streets. Rarely are they absolutely straight or at right angles to each other. This is clearly illustrated by the alignment of buildings on the west side of Albert Square. New developments should not seek to straighten out and 'sanitise' these interesting anomalies.

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