A unique offer to save Heybridge’s historic concrete cottages

A UNIQUE offer is launched to restore historic concrete cottages that were considered revolutionary when they were built almost 150 years ago.

Woodfield Cottages in Heybridge is a pioneering example of massive concrete construction.

The 41 single storey cottages were built in 1873 to house the employees of Bentall’s Agricultural Works.

The cottages originally had flat roofs when they were built in 1873

Cottages and outbuildings had flat roofs until 1918 and were known as “Flat Tops”.

Maldon District Council says the buildings were listed as Grade II in 1971, but several have been altered to detract from their traditional character and some are in poor condition.

The council is now launching a public consultation with the aim of improving the appearance of Woodfield Cottages.

The first step is to transform the cottages into a conservation area that would pave the way for Historic England grants so that owners can do work to improve the historic area.

Historic England Regional Director Tony Calladine said: “The Woodfield Cottages represent an important part of our social history, showing how generations of workers have lived life in this small community.

Maldon and Burnham Standard:

Some chalets today

“The cottages, built using innovative techniques and with the concern for the well-being of workers, represent an important moment in our industrial heritage.

The council also wants to reduce the bureaucracy of listed buildings to make it easier for owners to carry out sympathetic restorations.

Woodfield Cottages is an important example of a Victorian industrial housing community and we want to work with residents to help restore the character of the area

A special consent order – the first in East Anglia – would automatically give the green light to certain types of changes if made to an approved specification.

Jackie Graham, resident of Woodfield Cottages, said: “I think this project is a great idea. The cottages are quite special and many residents take pride in living here.

Maldon and Burnham Standard:

Artist’s impression of what the cottages could look like

“It would be nice to see the character of the region improve. “Personally, I would like to restore the original style of the sash windows in my cottage and the initiatives proposed would make this much easier, especially if grants become available.”

Head of Council Wendy Stamp said “Woodfield Cottages is an important example of a Victorian industrial housing community and we want to work with residents to help restore the character of the area.

Maldon and Burnham Standard:

A sectional reconstruction of one of the cottages

“2023 will be the 150th anniversary of the construction of the chalets. We hope that with the initiatives proposed in place, this anniversary can be celebrated with the chalets facing more promising prospects. ”

The deadline for commenting on the proposals is November 11. Visit maldon.gov.uk/consultations.

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