Leigh Old Town Conservation Area

The Leigh Old Town Conservation Area relates to the part of the Leigh between Leigh Creek and the railway, it was designated a Conservation Area in 1977. Find out which properties are within Leigh Old Town Conservation Area.

Historical Background

Leigh has a long history as a settlement dependant on the sea, and despite many changes still has much of the character of the old seafaring community. It was first recorded in the Domesday book of 1086 as "Legra", a tiny fishing hamlet. With increasing trade during the Middle Ages the settlement took advantage of its good sheltered position on the important shipping route to London and began to grow. Merchant ships of up to 340 tons were built here as well as trading ships for the local fishing fleets. Leigh and its shipping fleets were frequently used by the Navy against threats from pirates and the French, Spanish and Dutch navies.

Leigh Old Town’s Special Interest

Constrained on one side by Leigh Creek and on the other by the railway, Leigh Old Town is not much more than one main street yet its townscape is diverse and with its variety of marine activities squeezed almost at random into its small area - boat building and repair, sailing, fishing, cockle processing and retailing, together with pubs and houses - it has its own unique character as a working marine village.

Historically, the Old Town was densely developed with mostly small buildings packed close together in an informal layout. Despite some more recent demolition when the railway arrived in 1856 and some later additions, it has generally kept this close urban "texture" with buildings on the edge of the narrow High Street and narrow gaps providing glimpses of the Creek. With the curved alignment of the High Street and varied building designs, this close texture has produced an attractive and lively townscape and its position overlooking Leigh Creek and the marshes to the south and backed by Leigh Hill to the north enable extensive views into and out of the area and add to its townscape interest.

Further information on the history and special interest of Leigh Old Town Conservation Area can be found in the Leigh Old Town Conservation Area Appraisal.

Development in the Conservation Area

Minor works to most houses in the conservation area which would normally be classed as permitted development (works that can be undertaken without planning permission) such as changing windows or roofing materials are covered by the Leigh Old Town Article 4 Direction and a planning application must now be made. This enables the Council to control aspects of local character which make an important positive contribution to the conservation area.

LOT article 4. All development in the Conservation Area including extensions and alterations such as changing windows and roofing materials should follow guidance set out in the Conservation Areas Conservation Areas Do’s and Don’ts Leaflet and the Design and Townscape Guide, in particular Section 9 Historic Buildings. It is always advisable to review the Leigh Old Town Article 4 Direction and to check with the Council if planning permission is needed before undertaking any works to the exterior of a property in the conservation area.

Further Information

Leigh Old Town Conservation Area Article 4 Direction

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