On 28 November 2011, Letwell was designated as a Conservation Area
Jon Bell - Assistant Conservation Officer at Rotherham Borough Council - describes in detail his reasons for designating Letwell as a conservation area and the philosophy behind the decision.
"When first drafted in to assist the now retired Conservation Officer, I was somewhat surprised to discover that both Letwell and Firbeck were not already designated as Conservation Areas. Every Local Planning Authority has a duty to consider designating Conservation Areas. Since 1967 over 8,000 have been designated in England alone.
"Within Rotherham there are currently 26 Conservation Areas. The majority were designated by Rotherham Council following local government reorganisation in 1974. A Conservation Area is an area of special architectural interest, the character of which is desirable to preserve or enhance. Conservation Areas can be of many different kinds, from town centres to villages and even stretches of canals. They are often, but not exclusively, centred on listed buildings. It is the character of the area, including its landscape qualities rather than the presence of individual buildings which justifies designation as a Conservation Area.
"Overall, Letwell is a remarkably well preserved agricultural village. Negative factors are rare with replacement and renovation works having generally been of a high standard. This has been achieved partly because of the high proportion of listed buildings but also because of the attitude of residents who tend to have a positive attitude towards the ideals of conservation.
"Conservation Area status requires the character of the area to be maintained, but recognises the need for change, requiring a sensitive approach that respects the area. The intention is not to prevent development nor stifle individual design flair but to ensure that change is managed in a sensitive manner that respects the character of its surroundings.Being in a Conservation Area does tend to increase the standards required for aspects such as repairs, alteration or new building, but this is often outweighed by the ‘cachet’ of living or running a business in a Conservation Area, and the tendency of a well maintained character to sustain, or even enhance, property values.
"My own personal opinion is that Letwell is arguably one of the Borough's finest settlements and clearly meets the criteria for Conservation Area designation. By designating the village as a Conservation Area it will help ensure that the character of the settlement is retained and that future development is of a suitable quality that will enhance and not detract from its current appeal.
"I am pleased to have finally delivered its deserved Conservation Area status.