Richmond Council has acted to save the 1930s and 40s character of a high profile stretch of Whitton High Street, by giving greater protection and recognition to the buildings.
The stretch of shop units which are now occupied by Lidl and Kneller Furnishings were built in 1939 and until recently had existed as individual shops, apart from during World War Two, when two units were used for a fire station.
Although the façade has changed recently, the Council believes there are still distinctive art deco features including flagpoles, corner styling and a parapet. Formal Building of Townscape Merit status has now been conferred on them.
Cllr Gareth Elliott, Whitton Ward Councillor, said: “This is excellent news. For too long Whitton has been neglected by Liberal Democrat Councils. By bestowing the status of ‘Building of Townscape Merit’ this Council is recognising the unique character of Whitton Village and its Town Centre. Combined with the Uplift works we are giving Whitton the tools it needs to attract new shops and investment.”
Cllr Virginia Morris, Richmond Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning, said: “We are working hard to restore the character of Whitton and make it a place people enjoy shopping in. By acting now to protect these buildings, we can make sure these features are kept for the future.
“We’re in the process of installing the new 1930s style lighting to create a distinct ‘look’ for the high street, but protecting the character of the genuine architecture that is already there is just as important. When people look upwards past the Lidl signage, hopefully now and for years to come they will notice a little bit of ‘the good old days’ above them and we need to protect that for future generations.
“Already some features of the buildings have been lost over time, so we have made this designation now to prevent further damage to our local history.”
As well as the shop fronts in Whitton, Latchmere House on Ham Common has also been given Building of Townscape Merit status. Work is currently underway to achieve listed building status for the property from English Heritage, after new information on its history was discovered.
Giving Building of Townscape Merit status to a property means extra consideration is taken when any planning applications are submitted. It is expected that by giving BTM status and drawing attention to the historic, architectural and street scene issues of such buildings, owners and others will regard them more carefully when considering any proposals for alteration, extension or replacement.