KILSYTH CONSERVATION AREA APPRAISAL

Updated 27/02/2007

Based on the draft consultation document published by North Lanarkshire Council, 2001.

Bandstand 2.jpg (55489 bytes)Conservation Areas were introduced by the Civic Amenities Act in 1967 and are defined as “areas of special architecture or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to protect or enhance”.

Designation introduces a general control over the demolition of any building or structure within the area and to the lopping or felling of trees above a certain size.

It also imposes on LA’s the requirement to formulate and publish proposals for the preservation and enhancement of each conservation area, within the context of a thorough appraisal of its character and appearance. This appraisal therefore provides a framework for assessing development proposals within the Kilsyth Conservation area (KCA) and is supplementary to the Councils local plan for the area. 

The KCA is based around the post-medieval commercial core of Kilsyth. Click on the map to see the boundary (right).Map of Kilsyth Conservation area

KCA was first designated in 1974 and its boundaries revised and considerably reduced in size in March 1984.

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

Kilsyth lies approximately 2km north of the Antonine Wall. Despite this, the town did not develop until well into the middle ages. A detailed account of the early history can be found on the Kilsyth timeline.

The catalyst for this development was the formation of a route for traffic along the Barr, a rocky ridge within the Kelvin valley during the C15th.

Kilsyth was fully established as a settlement by the middle of the C17th through the establishment of two hamlets, Monyabroch and Burnside. A new town was forming on the higher ground to the south of the burns which eventually developed into the present day main street and that part of the town which is now the KCA.

At this time the old name of Monyabroch was replaced by Kilsyth, derived from 'Kelvesyth' meaning lands watered by the Kelvin, the original general descriptive name for the District as a whole. However, the name still lives on and is commemorated in the street names Monieburgh Road and Crescent.

This early cluster of simple thatched dwellings was originally sustained by agriculture. Surrounding land was of limited agricultural use, however, and improvements such as tree plantations and the drainage of the valley floor by diverting the Kelvin helped sustain the population. The fencing off of agricultural smallholdings at High Barrwood known as 'Couches' which were related to rig plots in Main Street and Market Street also made a significant contribution to the growth of the town.

These smallholdings were allocated by the Livingston family who enjoyed landed powers inherited from 1680 when Kilsyth was made a free Burgh of Barony by Royal Charter.

During the 18th Century the production of linen, and, after 1776, cotton weaving, were the principal industries. Trade was also assisted by the arrival in 1758 of the Edinburgh to Glasgow turnpike, later helped by the opening of the new Forth and Clyde Canal, and easy access to both West and East Coasts.

Towards the end of the 18th century the local hand loom industries were complemented by the expansion of quarrying for building stone for the growing cities such as Glasgow. The arrival of the railway at Croy in 1846 signaled a further expansion of trade and population growth. Manufacturing industry and mining replaced the traditional craft industries. 

Most of the grey-buff and red sandstone town centre we see today was built in the latter half of the 19th century. Elegant shopfronts survive at 40-42  and 55-63 Main street. Some of the doors and windows are original. The Market Square originally served as the focal point of the town. The Barony Court House was demolished in 1860 to make way for the present Market Chambers. (photo right) The square retains an ornamental water pump dated 1869. The old part of the town reflects the medieval street pattern, with many narrow lanes and wynds.

By 1901 the population had grown to 7292. The principal buildings are the town and public halls, and the academy. The chief industries are coal-mining and iron-works; there are also manufacturers of paper and cotton, besides quarrying of whinstone and sandstone.

The inauguration of Burngreen in 1910 with its formal planting, elegant ironwork railings and bridges, and ornamental bandstand marked a high point for the town. The epitome of Edwardian respectability, Kilsyth had become a popular destination for motor bus outings from across central Scotland. Around Burngreen the form and shape of the wide boulevards, formal gardens and elegant villas is in marked contrast to Main Street.  

After the 1914-18 war Kilsyth continued to enjoy a period of modest prosperity and the dignified public housing on Kelvin way and Kings way was built.

TOWNSCAPE

 The town centre is based around Main Street and Market Square. Main Street slopes gently from south to north towards the bridge over the Garrell Burn whilst the land to the east slopes down towards the Ebroch Burn.

Within the conservation area public open space is dominated by the formality of Burn Green park. This town park was laid out in 1910 and reflects the restrained civic dignity of the times. The focal point remains the ornamental bandstand in the centre. To the east is a fountain, to the west a war memorial whilst a range of paths provide walks amidst the formal flowerbeds.

The Market Square provides a contrast to the Park and is DSCF0062.jpg (33830 bytes) thoroughly urban in its form, scale and sense of enclosure. It retains a pump dated 1869 as focal point.

There are two distinct street patterns within the KCA. The Main Street and adjoining lanes and wynds reflect the late medieval origins of the settlements. Main Street itself curves in shallow “S” approximately north-south. Many of the wynds are now absorbed within buildings to provide covered access to the upper floors.  

Around Burngreen the scale and form of the streets is in marked contrast to Main Street. The streets are wider and exhibit a formal layout focused on the central park.

The conservation area exhibits a range of plot patterns with typically narrow plots along the Main Street representing the earliest phases of development, wider plots reflecting subsequent redevelopment. Both of these plot-types front directly onto the street and are densely built up with limited open space to the rear. Later phases of primary development are the terraced flats and detached villas set in gardens around the Burn Green.

The earliest known surviving structures are a range of two storey eighteenth century cottages with attics on Market Street. This form is repeated at a number of locations within the conservation area by buildings of a later date.

The commercial buildings of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century form a distinct, though architecturally varied, group centred on the Main Street. Predominantly two storeys with attic, the buildings are variously faced with whitewashed, ashlar and rubble masonry. Chimney gables and piended dormer windows are prominent seine features providing visual interest within the townscape.

The shopfronts are generally of low quality and relatively modern. Exceptions to this occur where early twentieth century shopfronts survive on Main Street at Nos. 40-42 and 55-63.

Listed Buildings

A schedule of the listed buildings within the conservation area is to be included within the appendices. (to follow)

Unlisted buildings of interest

A schedule of the unlisted buildings which are considered to make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the conservation area is included in the appendices. (to follow)

The gently sloping topography provides a number of local views and vistas within the conservation area. These are identified within the appendices. DSCF0049.jpg (27152 bytes)

The dominant building materials within the conservation are stone, slate and timber. The earliest buildings are constructed of sandstone quarried locally. The original slates were for the most part West Highland in origin.

Building Stone

The building stone available during the eighteenth and nineteenth century development of Kilsyth was principally locally quarried sandstone. This is predominantly grey-buff sandstone and is found throughout Main Streets and the villas and terraces facing Burngreen. The use of imported red sandstone is restricted to the Co-op Building and Nos. 55-63 Main Street.

Roofing Materials

The predominant roofing material found within the conservation area is slate, principally West Highland. This was used extensively from the late eighteenth century onwards and contributes significantly to the character and appearance of the area. In some instances artificial slates and concrete tiles have been used to recover slate roofs. These detract from the character and appearance of the conservation area and have a significantly shorter life span compared with natural West Highland slates.

Windows & Doors DCP_0993.jpg (11098 bytes)

The vast majority of windows and doors within the conservation area would originally have been constructed in softwood, mostly pine. Many of these survive and contribute positively to the character and appearance of the area.

However, many others have been replaced by modern 'replicas', whose profiles and detailing detract from the architectural quality of individual buildings and streets.

Features such as drinking fountains, mile posts or decorative railings are important elements within many historic towns. Kilsyth retains a range of such features which are identified below.

KEY FEATURES

The Kilsyth conservation area is a good example of a small, post medieval market town that possesses an early core of streets with a late-nineteenth century and Edwardian suburb planned around a park.

 The key features of the conservation area which contribute positively to its character and appearance are:

PRESERVATION AND ENHANCEMENT DCP_0986.jpg (13711 bytes)

The Council, as the planning authority, has a statutory duty to prepare schemes for the preservation and enhancement of the conservation areas within its boundary. Much of the day to day work in development control provides the core element of this based as it is on a set of clear policies within the local plan and supplementary guidance.

However, it is considered important that the Council also adopts a proactive approach to enhancement. This can ensure that the management of conservation areas ties in with the wider objectives of regeneration, social inclusion and building sustainable communities. The council has therefore identified a number of

initiatives that may be appropriate within this context and these are outlined below.

Within the Main Street there are several buildings which are at risk because they have been allowed to deteriorate structurally. These buildings are all important to the character and appearance of the conservation area and the council will encourage owners of such buildings to take steps to secure their future.

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In the case of the White House at numbers 40-42 Main Street, the Council has entered a partnership with its owners, Strathclyde Building Preservation Trust to secure the refurbishment and re-use of the property. This will bring new employment to Kilsyth and contribute to the regeneration of the town centre.

Other properties on Main Street have been refurbished by the Council in partnership with Scottish Homes to create new housing. The Council also has powers under the Planning Acts to ensure the proper repair of threatened buildings.

Some of the shops within the town centre have empty or underused upper floors. This problem often contributes to a range of related problems including structural damage, vandalism and theft leading to a town centre environment that is unattractive to many especially during the evening.

Bringing these upper floors into use particularly as residential flats addresses the shortage of smaller residential units and helps to regenerate town centres. Perhaps more importantly, the new residents bring a sense of community back to town centres and provide informal surveillance during the evenings.

The Council will therefore look at mechanisms to encourage better use of empty upper floors. Where appropriate, we will seek to establish partnership funding to accelerate this as part of the regeneration of the town centre.

There is a growing body of evidence to show that well maintained traditional town centres offering a high quality shopping environment to customers performs significantly better than other centres. Whilst public realm works can assist in achieving this it is important to ensure that the retail frontages are also of a high quality.

The Council will therefore consider the possibility of obtaining partnership funding to encourage individual owners to replace. poorly designed or damaged shopfronts with appropriate alternatives.

This should be done in conjunction with attempts to make better use of the upper floors of town centre premises. Such funding would also apply to improvements in signage and security.

The Council is responsible for the maintenance of the streets and pavements within the conservation area. In discharging this statutory function the Council will ensure that where possible, street surfaces, furniture and signage are appropriate to their context. In certain circumstances, it may be possible to obtain partnership funding for environmental improvements. In such cases, there will be a firm commitment to generate a scheme that contributes positively to the preservation and enhancement of the conservation area.

Development sites within the conservation area will normally be the subjects of development briefs, which set out the manner in which the Council expects to see the sites, developed. A key part of these briefs will be to establish a clear design framework for the development. This will identify which buildings if any should be retained; the scale, massing and design of new buildings; the use of materials and any other aspect of the development which may affect the character and appearance of the conservation area.

These briefs will be prepared as a supplement to the adopted Local Plan for the area.

The development control process provides the Council with the means to ensure that only works which are appropriate can be carried out within a conservation area. Whether the proposal is for the replacement of a window or the development of a site for housing the Council can only approve a scheme that preserves or enhances the character and appearance of the conservation area. To do so effectively the Council relies on a series of policies that set out the criteria against which any particular proposal will be judged. The policies are to be found within the local plan and in supplementary guidance appropriate to the type of development in question. This policy framework will be used to determine applications, guide enforcement action and advise members of the public on how best to alter their properties.

Article 4 Directions provide additional controls to local authorities particularly in relation to single dwelling houses which enjoy generous permitted development rights. To be effective however, such directions must be enforced correctly. Proposals are considered in the same way as any other application to ensure that the special interest of an area is not eroded gradually by, for example, the loss of timber sash windows or original boundary walls. 

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