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Vicar Street Conservation Area

Vicar Street and Exchange Street Conservation Area was designated by Wyre Forest District Council on 16th. July 2003. It is 1.46 hectares (3.61 acres) in extent and is located within Kidderminster Town Centre, in the County of Worcestershire.

The Conservation Area encompasses civic, business and other buildings that date from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; parts of an older street pattern; and a short length of the embankment to the River Stour.

The Conservation Area is almost entirely surrounded by built development dating from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Important aspects of the current setting, include the Area’s proximity to and links with the following:

a) Elements of the surviving medieval street pattern particularly in the Bull Ring, Church Street, Worcester Street, Oxford Street, Lower Mill Street, Blackwell Street and Coventry Street.

b) Church Street Conservation Area, which is located approximately 60 metres to the north-west of the Area and like Vicar Street lies within the medieval urban form albeit now characterised by later buildings. (Church Street in-turn links to the medieval Church of St Mary, to the north).

c) Groups of older buildings both within and adjoining the Town Centre; particularly in the Bull Ring, Church Street, Worcester Street, Oxford Street, Lower Mill Street, Blackwell Street, Coventry Street, Prospect Hill, New Road, Green Street, Dixon Street, Castle Road and Park Lane.

d) The River Stour, which both adjoins or flows close to its western edge, and is visible from a road bridge at the south-west end of Exchange Street and a footbridge at the western end of Weavers Wharf.

The Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal Conservation Area, which is located approximately 230 metres to the west. (The Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal was constructed in 1772 and runs north south through the Town, following the valley of the River Stour).

The Conservation Area’s principal thoroughfare, Vicar Street, is shown on one of the oldest surviving maps of Kidderminster dated 1753, but is thought to be medieval in origin; whilst Exchange Street, also within the Area, probably dates from the early nineteenth century.

The Area includes seven Listed Buildings that exhibit considerable unity of character. These buildings date from the nineteenth century; are constructed of good quality materials, including Italianate detailing (generally classical); are mostly two or three generously proportioned storeys in height, and were originally (and remain in) civic or business use. All exhibit a sense of civic or business dignity and pride appropriate to their location adjoining one of the principal streets of the Town Centre. The Area includes several other buildings that are not statutorily listed but which sit well with the Listed Buildings and the Street Scene.

Most of Vicar Street and parts of the other streets are pedestrianised, which increases their importance as public spaces and provides a dignified setting to the adjoining buildings. The southern end of Vicar Street, to the fore of the Town Hall, has the feel of a modest civic square.

The medieval layout of much of the Area, and its redevelopment and expansion during the nineteenth century (as exemplified by the Italianate inspired designs of the Listed Buildings) has given it a distinctive character and appearance; which provides a clear guide for the design and layout of any further development.

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