Bewdley Conservation Area
Bewdley Conservation Area was designated in 1968 and reviewed in 1976, and is 42.8 hectares (105.7 acres) in extent. It comprises the town centre, adjoining residential streets, part of the River Severn, adjoining river frontages and other landscape features, and part of the old settlement of Wribbenhall. The surviving built component of the Conservation Area dates primarily from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries, although settlement in the area predates this period.
The Conservation Area is at the heart of the town of Bewdley that is itself set in and hidden by unspoilt undulating countryside. The Area includes a large proportion of the town and in places abuts open countryside; hence the rural setting of the town is an important component of its character and in turn that of the Conservation Area. Much of this countryside was recognised in the Worcestershire County Development Plan during the 1950s as being an Area of Great Landscape Value, and has been recognised in successive Local Plans as having high local landscape quality. To the west, north and south lie the Wyre Forest and its outliers, which are recognised as being of national importance to nature conservation. The urban fringe to the east of the river is entirely allocated as Green Belt. It is important to conserve the rural setting of the town and Conservation Area, and in so doing to recognise the interrelationships between the Area and overall setting.
The River Severn is a significant feature forming a valley through the centre of the Conservation Area and Town. Here the channel varies in width between approximately 40 and 55 metres. The riverbanks are, for the most part in this location, revetted with natural sandstone blocks that historically formed quaysides. Importantly, the River brings the countryside into the town, particularly as to the north and south, the town is pinched inwards in plan towards the River. In addition, there is only one bridge over the River in the town centre and Conservation Area, meaning views upstream and downstream from the bridge itself and adjoining quaysides towards the countryside are uninterrupted and continuous.
The Conservation Area has considerable architectural and historic interest. The town’s origins as a principal crossing point of the River Severn during medieval times and as an inland port established it as a thriving centre for trade, which continued until the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Its prosperity is reflected in many buildings, particularly those constructed during the late middle ages and Georgian periods; which have stamped a clear and unmistakable character on the town, and generally comprise a clear lead for new development to follow. The construction of the railway station during the mid. 19th century brought Victorian architectural influences, particularly to parts of Wribbenhall.