Not At Risk. No, Really. Honest.

According to a survey by English Heritage released today, one in seven conservation areas in London are ‘at risk’ – mainly from “neglect, decay or damaging change.”

You know the sort of thing – dodgy extensions, icky ‘improvements,’ street clutter, the wholesale paving-over of front gardens, giant advertisement hoardings, nasty front dormers, yada, yada. EH’s biggest bugbear is plastic windows and doors.

“Hm,” I thought to myself. “I can think of a few ‘additions’ to some local conservation areas. I’ll look up the results and see just how bad we are…”

Hold onto your hats, folks. Greenwich is squeaky-clean.

What? Not a single conservation area in the whole of Greenwich borough at risk? Heavens. What paragons of heritage preservation we must be after all. I must have just been imagining that front-dormer in Humber Road…

It was only when I looked a little further, that I started to smell a rat. English Heritage got their results by contacting councils and asking them if there was anything wrong with their lovely conservation areas. Simon Thurley, (CEO of EH) was “delighted that 75% responded…”

Let’s look at the possible meanings of our own fair borough’s omission from the list.

Number One. The Bucolic Greenwich Scenario. We really do have completely healthy conservation areas, every development in these spots is utterly gorgeous to look at and we live in an Arcadian Dream.

Aw, c’mon. It’s possible…

Number Two. The Oops-I-knew-there-was-something-I-meant-to-do Scenario. Greenwich Council couldn’t be bothered forgot to fill in the form. Well – at least they’re not alone – a quarter of councils did the same thing.

Number Three. The Nothing-to-see-here Scenario. Surely Greenwich Council wouldn’t lie about the state of our conservation areas? After all we’re not at any kind of risk of losing our World Heritage status, are we.

Nah. It’s got to be Number One. It’s just got to be.

What’s your favourite ‘addition’ to a conservation area? Remember it has to be a conservation area, so sadly my all-time favourite conversion, to adjoining properties on the corner of Halstow and Chevening Roads – so extraordinary that it’s made its way into a Harper Collins book on period property, and worth making a special trip just to witness (sorry – I’ve never had my camera whenever I’ve been that way), doesn’t count…

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