IN WAVERTREE GARDEN SUBURB
In late January, the City Council's Planning Manager Nigel Lee sent out a letter to all residents in the Wavertree Garden Suburb Conservation Area. It asked for their views on a number of options open to the City Council with regard to proposals it receives for changes to front gardens and windows in the Garden Suburb.
The deadline for responses was the end of February, and the Council's Conservation Team is currently studying the replies which were sent in. They describe the level of response as 'very pleasing': in all, 270 letters were sent out to residents and 85 responses were received from householders right across the area. Three-quarters of those who responded took the time to expand on the reasons for choosing the Options they selected and many put forward further useful ideas.
The planners have not wanted to 'rush to judgement' in their approach to either hard standing for cars or to windows, but the results of the consultation will, they say, feed into the Management Plan which they hope to produce later on in the year. The high level of response to the survey may also lead to residents' opinions on other management issues being sought. As part of our own plans to celebrate the Garden Suburb's centenary this year, we are hoping to arrange an open meeting on the theme of 'The Future of Wavertree Garden Suburb' to which the Conservation Officers will be invited.
In parallel with the residents' consultation exercise, the Conservation Team also asked the Wavertree Society to comment on the various options which were contained in the Planning Manager's letter. This was our response:
The original windows were, we understand, manufactured by Woodworkers Ltd - a co-partnership firm founded by Henry Vivian - at their factory in Letchworth Garden City, and transported by rail to Wavertree (as well as to the other estates being developed by Co-partnership Tenants Ltd at that time). They are among the most characteristic features of garden city/garden suburb type housing, and their replacement by an assortment of UPVC designs is one of the most unfortunate changes to have taken place in recent years. However, we feel that the profile of the glazing bars and the proportions of the mullions and transoms, rather than the materials per se, are the most important features. We therefore support Option 3 ('Replace windows in wood ... to a design specified by the Council...') with the proviso that an 'approved' UPVC-with-double-glazing design should be offered as an alternative to householders not wishing to use timber (and, of course, that householders should not be discouraged from repairing the original wooden frames if they so wish). We feel that, in order for such a policy to be effective, it is essential that prompt enforcement action be taken against householders who install windows of a 'non-approved' design. We also hope that, in order to assist Garden Suburb householders, the Council will maintain a register of joinery contractors and UPVC window suppliers who have shown themselves capable of meeting the new requirements.
The existence of front and back gardens bounded by hedges (mostly privet) is another of the most characteristic features of garden city/garden suburb type housing. When Wavertree Garden Suburb was first laid out, we understand that Liverpool Garden Suburb Tenants Ltd employed gardeners to keep the front hedges uniformly trimmed, and in view of the changes of ownership that have since taken place we feel that it is remarkable that this aspect of the estate's character has survived so well. Car ownership by Garden Suburb residents does not seem to have been anticipated when the houses were designed - just a few 'cycle stores' were provided, several of which were later converted to garages - but it is now almost universal and on-street/on-verge/on-pavement parking is detrimental to the character of the Conservation Area. We therefore support Option 2 ('Provide a single paved driveway for parking one or two cars ...') though we would add a rider that the paved area should not cover more than 50 percent of the front garden except in very special circumstances. We also feel that the use of plain tarmac, plain concrete, or pattern-imprinted concrete as paving materials should be discouraged.