PLANS to make a picturesque housing estate a conservation area have fallen by the wayside after the proposals divided opinion in the neighbourhood.
Last November, residents of the Gatehill Farm Estate in Northwood were given the chance to vote on whether they would like to see the change, which would place stricter restrictions on those wishing to carry out work on their properties.
More than 50 people questioned the council's Conservation and Urban Design team about the implications of the move at a public meeting in December, and polling slips were sent out to 189 residents, with more than half (106) registering their vote.
Fifty five of those who responded were in favour, with 51 saying they wouldn't back the change, and a further 11 sent letters of objection.
The decision not to proceed is due to be signed off at a Council cabinet meeting on Thursday (17).
Chester Ball, planning committee member for the Gatehill Residents Association (GRA) and Wieland Road resident of nearly 30 years, said that he was 'disappointed' with the result but added: "As a residents association, above all we were pleased that the council were minded to ultimately let the community decide.
"It's fair to say that there have been some planning applications that people on the estate have found contentious. Because of this, some wanted to find a way to protect the area from further development.
"This is a very pleasant place to live, and there is a desire to keep it the way it is, which attracted people to it in the first place."
The GRA initially requested that the area be considered for conservation, but the poll revealed a community reluctant to fully commit.
While some residents thought the move would preserve the character of the coveted 1930s homes in the area, others argued that even minor works would be subject to reams of council red tape.
The estate – which includes Gatehill Road, Elgood Avenue and Wieland Road - is one of 14 Areas of Special Local Character (ASLC) in the borough, but some residents viewed this status as being insufficient in affording the properties protection from 'unsympathetic development works.'
Any work that changes the appearance of buildings in a Conservation Area is subject to greater local authority control and scrutiny than that of a ASLC.
Councillor Andrew Retter (Conservative, Northwood Hills) said: "It was a close decision but in the circumstances, without an overwhelming majority, it would not be feasible to press ahead.
"Planning rules and guidelines would have changed, but I think there was a misconception that painting your front door would become a problem, which is not the case.
"There was an excellent response to the consultation, and on the whole, people made informed decisions about whether they wanted it."
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