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1 Ralph Road, Staveley, Derbyshire

Client: Mr and Mrs Easson

Local Authority: Derbyshire County Council

1 Ralph Road was a non-designated 18th century two-storey cottage constructed in a mixture of red brick and rubble stonework with external render. The building was formerly associated with a shop, alongside a nearby historic smithy on land to the north. However, the building had unfortunately fallen into severe disrepair after remaining unoccupied and open to the elements for several years.

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The Proposal

The proposed development sought to demolish the existing building to facilitate the construction of a single replacement dwelling on the site, as well as three new residential dwellings on the plot to the immediate north. The creation of new access was also required to allow entrance into the newly subdivided plot from the main road.

The Challenges

Many local residents objected to the demolition of the non-designated heritage asset due to beliefs that it was a vital part of the town’s history. However, these objections failed to sufficiently justify this impact against the harm inflicted upon the local area caused by the unsightly, dilapidated appearance of the structure which was unviable for repair due to severe structural issues. Concerns also existed regarding the impact of the proposed dwellings and associated landscaping on the buried archaeological remains within the plot – particularly those associated with the structural remains of the demolished historic smithy building.

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The Solutions

Blue Willow Heritage was commissioned to provide a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA). This report was able to effectively demonstrate that the significance of the cottage was predominantly contained not by the physical fabric of the building but within intangible digital historical records – including cartographic sources. This was especially considering the relative lack of survival of historic features within the cottage, alongside the separation of this dwelling from the historic smithy which was instead represented by below-ground archaeological remains.


As such, although the demolition itself could be considered to result in a major adverse impact to the physical fabric of the non-designated asset, the low significance of the fabric reduced the scale of this harm to the local area. This is especially when considering the positive impact of the proposed development on views within the local area. Ultimately, our team was able to demonstrate that the overall impact of this development was considered to be negligible to neutral. Appropriate mitigation strategies were also able to be effectively negotiated to ensure full recording of the historic building and associated smithy to ensure their preservation in the archaeological record – thereby further offsetting harm incurred within the proposed development.

The Outcome

Planning permission was successfully granted for the project subject to the appropriate planning conditions implemented by the council. Specifically, Blue Willow Heritage was instructed to provide a Written Scheme of Investigation (WSI) for the mitigation works – including a breakdown of the methodology for the Historic Building Recording (HBR) and Archaeological Watching Brief. This included plotting the evaluation trenches and the area of investigation for the Archaeological Watching Brief. Appropriately accredited archaeologists from our team were also commissioned to be present to monitor the demolition of the historic cottage. The completion of these planning conditions allowed the Easson family to create their perfect family home, as well as regenerating views towards the dilapidated plot through introducing high quality design to the space.

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Mitigation Works

Blue Willow Heritage was then commissioned by the client to carry out the Historic Building Recording of the dilapidated cottage, alongside for the management of archaeological services for the project including a series of Trial Trenching and an Archaeological Watching Brief. Upon completion of the Building Recording, our team monitored the demolition of the historic cottage and submitted a Demolition Monitoring Statement to satisfy the planning conditions associated with the proposed development. Blue Willow Heritage then teamed up with local excavation contractors to carry out the Watching Brief and Evaluation Trenching concentrating on the historic smithy. As such, our team was successfully involved in the project from start to finish - including the application for planning permission, alongside appropriate recording of both the building and below-ground archaeological remains. This is a clear example of our comprehensive range of archaeological skillsets, alongside our holistic approach to heritage management projects.

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The design team for this project comprised Blue Willow Heritage and Stainton Planning. 

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