Elms Shopping parade has ‘historic value’ says heritage expert

Oxford Mail: Chris Church Chris Church

ELMS Parade should be considered a heritage asset, according to an English Heritage expert.

Had the 1930s row of shops in Botley survived unaltered, it would meet the criteria to be officially listed, a report by Dr Kathryn Davies states.

But despite the changes, it says the shops still have “sufficient significance” to be considered as a non-listed heritage asset.

Dr Davies, a historic buildings expert for English Heritage, produced her report for pressure group West Way Community Concern.

The group is fighting Doric Properties’ £100m plan to rebuild the shopping precinct.

Campaigner and Botley resident Chris Church said: “By commissioning our own research using nationally-recognised measures, we are showing there is a character to Botley which is not industrial estates and seven-storey buildings.

“Elms Parade has a heritage value in the eyes of people in the area, and an English Heritage officer has agreed this is the case.”

Dr Davies’ report quotes English Heritage’s manual, Conservation Principles, and says: “The significance of the site can be expressed as the sum of its heritage values.”

The report goes on to list some of the values including historical and communal.

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Dr Davies said Elms Farm once stood on the site and could reveal information about historic farming in this area.

She said it has historic value because it illustrates the rapid growth of Oxford in the 20th century to surrounding villages and because it was formerly owned by the Earl of Abingdon.

Her report praises the parade’s aesthetic value as an example of Art Deco style, and its communal value as a centre still in use by the community.

Mr Church said the report would be followed by another document about the character of Botley, again using English Heritage assessment measures. This will be unveiled at the next community concern meeting on Thursday.

Oxford Preservation Trust director Debbie Dance said the trust agreed with the report.

She said: “Thank heavens someone has recognised its value before it’s too late.”

The Howse family, which owns Elms Parade, has reiterated that it has no wish to sell the buildings to Doric.

In a statement, the family said: “Our position has not changed and, as before, we have no need or desire to sell Elms Parade.”

However, campaigners fear that if Doric receives planning permission, Vale of White Horse District Council may decide to issue a compulsory purchase order on the family.

English Heritage has said it does not wish to comment on the planning application.

Doric Properties director Simon Hillcox said: “Doric undertook an extensive pre-application consultation on its regeneration proposals for Botley. The council is now consulting widely through its own process, which includes consulting English Heritage directly.

“English Heritage’s professional team have responded formally to the consultation and have confirmed they have no objection to the plans.”

A POTTED HISTORY OF ELMS FARM

  • An extract from Dr Kathryn Davies’ report: s Built in 1937 to meet the needs of the 1930s suburb, Elms Parade is a good example of a typical 1930s parade of shops designed to be a focal point of the growing community. It takes its name from Elms Farm, on whose land it is built.
  • This was a large mixed farm dating from at least the 17th century, situated around two miles from the centre of Oxford. It was bought by the Howse family in 1920 from the Earl of Abingdon.
  • The farmland was gradually developed to create housing to meet the needs of the growing city.
  • Elms Rise and other 1930s development attracted people from Oxford who wanted to move out of the city centre to the more open healthier suburb. The farmhouse itself survived and was used as the community library until this was redeveloped in the 1960s.

Comments (11)

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7:47am Mon 24 Feb 14

Andy of jericho says...

Elms Parade is tawdry, run down, utterly uninteresting and unappealing. It is like many hundreds of such places across the UK. If that is a heritage assets then this country is well and truly over, finished, ended. Just try to imagine taking a chinese or brazilian round there and saying, this is our most precious asset, THIS is what we love about England

How much did the NIMBYs pay for this result one wonder?

Doric, please bulldoze the lot flat asap (I mean the buildings not the NIMBYs - although...)
Elms Parade is tawdry, run down, utterly uninteresting and unappealing. It is like many hundreds of such places across the UK. If that is a heritage assets then this country is well and truly over, finished, ended. Just try to imagine taking a chinese or brazilian round there and saying, this is our most precious asset, THIS is what we love about England How much did the NIMBYs pay for this result one wonder? Doric, please bulldoze the lot flat asap (I mean the buildings not the NIMBYs - although...) Andy of jericho

8:49am Mon 24 Feb 14

Patrick, Devon says...

Dr Davies' report reads like something out of pseuds corner. The picture shows how valuable these small shops are - not! The estate agent will be sorely missed and couldnt possibly be replaced.
Dr Davies' report reads like something out of pseuds corner. The picture shows how valuable these small shops are - not! The estate agent will be sorely missed and couldnt possibly be replaced. Patrick, Devon

9:34am Mon 24 Feb 14

Milkbutnosugarplease says...

I was there yesterday (Sunday) and was surprised how many people were out and about or shopping at the Co-op. It isn't dead or tawdry. The parade of shops beside the road has character and excellent parking. The problem is the 1960s part behind there, which has the Iceland and Tesco Express stores. That precinct looks very drab and needs some attention. It's wrong to bulldoze the whole lot and replace it with another scheme which will look drab in 10 years' time. The property company probably can't make a big profit on partly rebuilding the site, so naturally they want to flatten everything. With clever design and a smaller building company, I'm sure the 1930s parade of shops could be kept and something better put up in place of the ugly bits behind. The library could be re-housed in a more attractive building too. Can we have some imagination here before we have another Westgate Centre/Clarendon Centre/clone-town shopping inferno pushed onto reluctant owners and shoppers? Lastly, the 1930s had a great energy for building houses because they were needed and created jobs to expand the local economy. We need that spirit now. Where did it go? Do we have entrepreneurs like William Morris/Lord Nuffield?
I was there yesterday (Sunday) and was surprised how many people were out and about or shopping at the Co-op. It isn't dead or tawdry. The parade of shops beside the road has character and excellent parking. The problem is the 1960s part behind there, which has the Iceland and Tesco Express stores. That precinct looks very drab and needs some attention. It's wrong to bulldoze the whole lot and replace it with another scheme which will look drab in 10 years' time. The property company probably can't make a big profit on partly rebuilding the site, so naturally they want to flatten everything. With clever design and a smaller building company, I'm sure the 1930s parade of shops could be kept and something better put up in place of the ugly bits behind. The library could be re-housed in a more attractive building too. Can we have some imagination here before we have another Westgate Centre/Clarendon Centre/clone-town shopping inferno pushed onto reluctant owners and shoppers? Lastly, the 1930s had a great energy for building houses because they were needed and created jobs to expand the local economy. We need that spirit now. Where did it go? Do we have entrepreneurs like William Morris/Lord Nuffield? Milkbutnosugarplease

9:54am Mon 24 Feb 14

Patrick, Devon says...

The 1930s were renowned for ribbon development and unplanned sprawl, which many "entrepreneurs" took full advantage of. Now we have the green belt, on which only new roads can be built.
The 1930s were renowned for ribbon development and unplanned sprawl, which many "entrepreneurs" took full advantage of. Now we have the green belt, on which only new roads can be built. Patrick, Devon

11:35am Mon 24 Feb 14

Sandy Wimpole-Smythe says...

Pay anyone enough and they will produce a report to fit your needs.
Pay anyone enough and they will produce a report to fit your needs. Sandy Wimpole-Smythe

12:12pm Mon 24 Feb 14

King Joke says...

This row of shops is utterly, utterly unremarkable. I grew up in suburban London where you can travel for miles - and I'm not joking, it it really is miles - seeing nothing but 1930s parades like this, with the space between filled with semi-detatched houses. If Botley residents think they live in a unique gem they are sorely mistaken.

This does not mean we should accept every aspect of the Doric plans, but really the 'antis' should oppose for credible reasons or risk looking silly.
This row of shops is utterly, utterly unremarkable. I grew up in suburban London where you can travel for miles - and I'm not joking, it it really is miles - seeing nothing but 1930s parades like this, with the space between filled with semi-detatched houses. If Botley residents think they live in a unique gem they are sorely mistaken. This does not mean we should accept every aspect of the Doric plans, but really the 'antis' should oppose for credible reasons or risk looking silly. King Joke

1:15pm Mon 24 Feb 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

If there wasn't a Post Office in this row of shops, no-one would have taken a bit of notice.

I do wonder what will happen as we roll over another decade. Will the 55 year olds of today, who have been on-line savvy for at least 20 years, be as eager to use a Post Office in 2024?
If there wasn't a Post Office in this row of shops, no-one would have taken a bit of notice. I do wonder what will happen as we roll over another decade. Will the 55 year olds of today, who have been on-line savvy for at least 20 years, be as eager to use a Post Office in 2024? Andrew:Oxford

1:18pm Mon 24 Feb 14

King Joke says...

A Post Office is still useful for people with full web access. The one on St Aldates is heavily used, for eg, by young overseas people sending stuff back home. Demand will certainly be lower in future though, so we won't need offices as large as previously. I know this may be heretical talk, but the PO in the Cowley Co-op does just as good a job as the old Cowley PO did until a few years ago, and that was 2-3 times the size.
A Post Office is still useful for people with full web access. The one on St Aldates is heavily used, for eg, by young overseas people sending stuff back home. Demand will certainly be lower in future though, so we won't need offices as large as previously. I know this may be heretical talk, but the PO in the Cowley Co-op does just as good a job as the old Cowley PO did until a few years ago, and that was 2-3 times the size. King Joke

1:54pm Mon 24 Feb 14

mytaxes says...

Do you think that the academics etc., behind the campaign really believe in this twaddle? I do not think that any intelligent person would be silly enough to pay any attention to it. Perhaps out of some kind of mischief they want Oxford to become a laughing stock? Let's not forget that there are many others who want the development . Thank goodness we are not all NIMBYS in Oxford otherwise nothing would change.
Do you think that the academics etc., behind the campaign really believe in this twaddle? I do not think that any intelligent person would be silly enough to pay any attention to it. Perhaps out of some kind of mischief they want Oxford to become a laughing stock? Let's not forget that there are many others who want the development . Thank goodness we are not all NIMBYS in Oxford otherwise nothing would change. mytaxes

6:35pm Mon 24 Feb 14

FarmerG says...

I, for one, love Elms Parade exactly as it is. I love the personal service from the shopkeepers, I love the easy parking, and I hate the idea of having a massive, blocky modern development, the design of which is driven more by profit than local need. The Doric design is huge, hideous, and totally lacking in community appeal. The existing parade is small and much more in keeping with the needs of Botley residents.
I, for one, love Elms Parade exactly as it is. I love the personal service from the shopkeepers, I love the easy parking, and I hate the idea of having a massive, blocky modern development, the design of which is driven more by profit than local need. The Doric design is huge, hideous, and totally lacking in community appeal. The existing parade is small and much more in keeping with the needs of Botley residents. FarmerG

8:29pm Mon 24 Feb 14

faatmaan says...

just like with metrification it is the elderly trying to prevent updating/modernisati
on, the shopping centre is a sprawl, disjointed and a nightmare at times to drive a car through when the other old folks try their best to crash into each other. Let reality set in and see who wants to pick up the pieces later when parts of it are condemned due to being in a precarious state, who will want to fund a redevelopment in years to come, they might just flatten the whole area and make it into something less desirable.
just like with metrification it is the elderly trying to prevent updating/modernisati on, the shopping centre is a sprawl, disjointed and a nightmare at times to drive a car through when the other old folks try their best to crash into each other. Let reality set in and see who wants to pick up the pieces later when parts of it are condemned due to being in a precarious state, who will want to fund a redevelopment in years to come, they might just flatten the whole area and make it into something less desirable. faatmaan

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