Ards and Down Area Plan 2015
Ards Borough: Comber Environment & Conservation
Those features or combination of features that contribute to the environmental quality, integrity or character of these areas are listed below.
LLPA 1 Enler River corridor and Mount Alexander
- Enler River including riverside walkway and adjacent land liable to flooding provides an important wildlife corridor and landscape feature through the town;
- connects to Strangford Lough and important for fishing and passive recreation; and
- archaeologically important fortification site of former Mount Alexander Castle now with a historic plantation house.
LLPA 2 Comber Non Subscribing Presbyterian Church and Surroundings
- listed non subscribing Presbyterian Church, hall, rectory and gates and surrounding landscaped grounds, car park, graveyard and pedestrian and vehicular approaches to the site;
- important mature trees within grounds and along boundaries; and
- includes two detached properties in sizeable plots surrounded by mature vegetation as part of setting and approach to church site.
LLPA 3 Clattering Ford and surroundings
- local nature conservation interest provided by former mill race, river corridor and former mill pond, now a small wildlife refuge;
- locally important former mill building now converted to residential use and series of surrounding traditional dwellings once focused on the mill; and
- pond is surrounded by mature vegetation and there are significant tree belts along the river, former railway embankment and field boundaries within the area making for a good entrance feature into town.
LLPA 4 Comber River and former settlement
- archaeological interest – this area was once the site of a new Comber town which was deserted – the two fields immediately outside the development limit are scheduled for buried remains;
- includes mouth of Comber River and the river corridor, part of which carries nature conservation designations;
- important tree groups throughout area of detached properties creates densely wooded character and includes one listed house and its setting; and
- trees form a good entrance feature into the town and screen development on Ballydrain Road.
The distinctive character, appearance, key features and intrinsic qualities of The Square and the basis for its designation as an Area of Townscape Character derive from:
- the planned layout of The Square contrasting with the surrounding informal townscape;
- the Gillespie Monument and its setting representing the central focus of The Square;
- the Parish Church (1841), built on the site of the Cistercian Monastery;
- older buildings fronting The Square, best represented by those on the North side; and
- cobbled pavement at No’s 9 and 11.
Within an informal and modestly scaled townscape, The Square is a distinctive key focus for the local community. It possesses a strong architectural presence and sense of enclosure. It is an important historic space of robust form, but an accumulation of recent minor developments has led to a significant erosion of traditional detailing and authentic artefacts, to the extent that Conservation Area status could not be justified. With the opportunity for new development limited, efforts to sustain the separate and distinctive identity of The Square should be concentrated on conservation of the present building fabric and enhancement and consolidation of the existing character.
The appearance of The Square would benefit from an elimination of street clutter, for example, wirescape, signage and cabling.
The distinctive character, appearance, key features and intrinsic qualities and the basis for its designation as an Area of Townscape Character derive from:
- the Arts and Crafts flavour of the houses and the tones and colours of the natural stonework, brick and rendered finishes used throughout which combine in a sense of distinctiveness critical to this particular environment;
- the Mill, a solid Victorian stone-built industrial building and the Andrews Memorial Hall, both strong individual architectural statements;
- the First Presbyterian Church dominating the height but providing a tenuous link between the communities of Mill Village and the historic town, the latter epitomised by The Square;
- the unity and individuality of each terrace;
- the complementary role of the landscaped area between the Mill, the Hall and Carnesure Terrace through which passes Mill River.
- the two terraces fronting Brownlow Street dating from the early years of the 20th Century; they are two storey, slated and rendered and comprise two alternating complementary designs influenced by the ‘Arts and Craft’ style;
- row of trees on the eastern side of Railway Street; and
- the distinct and corporate character of Nos. 71-135 Railway Street – built in the early 20th Century as housing for Andrew’s Mill.
The Mill, the essential component within the village, dates from the 1860s and was in use until recently. The setting and the relationship with the local landscape elements and the mill housing create a cohesive and intimate composition with a distinct identity and intrinsic quality of its own.
Brownlow Street is residential and was developed in conjunction with Andrew’s Mill. The street developed from the north and southward. At the south end Nos. 59-89 and Nos. 52-82 were developed as an entity.
Railway Street is residential with the older buildings lining the west side. The development to the east is relatively recent and on filled ground. The row of trees that characterises the eastern side is probably contemporary with the older housing and is an essential ingredient of the street’s character.
Within the Mill Village Area of Townscape Character, a sense of completeness pervades and minimal potential exists for new development. The singular sense of place attaching to Mill Village can only be protected by conserving the physical fabric, which is the essence of its character and appearance.
In addition to meeting prevailing regional planning policy requirements, any future use within the Mill building should respect the industrial and architectural legacy of the building and its surroundings.
It is considered that Mill Village possesses all the qualities to merit protection as a Conservation Area. The Department’s will consider designation of a Conservation Area when resources permit.
The area identified reflects the area of pre historic, medieval and post medieval settlements where, on the basis of current knowledge, it is likely that archaeological remains will be encountered in the course of development.