Two things contribute to the special interest of a conservation area – its character and its appearance. Whilst the use of a building does not generally affect its appearance, it can affect its character.
Generally the character of our conservation areas is of a residential and institutional nature, with many commercial areas serving its residents and institutions. This is part of the special character of the area. We therefore oppose anything which seeks to harm this special character, such as applications for nightclubs or other types of night-use.
Over the past few decades London’s tourist economy has grown significantly. This has caused a shift towards businesses catering for tourists, rather than its residents and institutions. This is a fundamental shift in the area’s special commercial character, and we are concerned about this. We particularly oppose ‘tourist shops’ whose design and clutter often also harm the local area’s character.
In this manner we also support the retention of small business and office units, rather than their amalgamation into larger units. This is to ensure that independent traders and businesses still have a place to work in the area. The businesses of our conservation areas and London as a whole historically were run by independent traders, generally family businesses, rather than multinational corporations. Large corporations often seek larger floor space and seek to amalgamate two neighbouring units into one, and so forth. Larger units are less accessible to small businesses, and small units are less accessible to multinational businesses, and so to try and preserve this element of the area’s special character, we seek to preserve small business and office spaces.