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Broadway Trust, Worcestershire

PUBLISHED: 17:29 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:52 20 February 2013

Sue Parkinson's delightfully electric emporium in High Street

Sue Parkinson's delightfully electric emporium in High Street

As Broadway considers the possibility of a place in the housing boom, it still remains a hot property for non-residents. <br/><br/>Words and photographs by Mark Child

All is not well in paradise. The news that Gordon Brown is planning to build three million new homes by 2020 - a quarter of a million more than stated under the previous Prime Minister - has got rural campaigners everywhere in a tizzy. In little Broadway, which feels that it has lately done its bit in this respect, the announcement that the national annual target for new build is to be increased to 240,000 by 2016 has caused much disquiet. The Broadway Trust is closely monitoring the situation; the village is already holding its breath in anticipation of a house-building outcome that it might perceive to be unfavourable under the revised West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy.


The Broadway Trust was established in 1963 by a group of residents who were then concerned about the proposed redevelopment of the Lifford Gardens area behind Russell House. It has since been active in planning matters for Broadway and in working 'for the active conservation of the essential character of the village and its rural surroundings'. This does not necessarily mean preservation at all costs, as if Broadway should become a vacuous museum piece. It can be preserved only if people are able to live and work there, enabling the trades and services to thrive, which are essential for a vibrant economy. This in turn helps to finance and maintain the very character that is so pleasurable to visitors and tourists.


This character has built up over centuries, and has as much to do with the use that has been made of Broadway as it does the timber framing and the stonework of its buildings. For centuries, the village was a great coaching centre, its hostelries ideally placed where travel-weary passengers might be fed and watered, and tired horses changed for ones that could freshly tackle the nearby escarpment. The stagecoaches rattled their last along the unmade roads, following the opening of the London, Oxford and Worcester railway line in 1856; within four years, trains were pulling into Evesham. Once its days as a stagecoach stopping centre were over, Broadway settled back into anonymity.


The resulting quietude attracted William Morris, who nonetheless showed the village to his artistic friends; they, in turn, spread the word, and before long a succession of painters were sufficiently captivated by this attractive spot to either rent or buy properties. Broadway became famous for the people who lived there, and for the picturesque beauty that was inspiring their work. People came to the village, eager to see both, and Broadway became, in 1904, busy enough to have its own railway station. This coincided with what amounted to a public obsession for bicycling in the countryside, which gripped the Edwardians, following the full development of the pneumatic safety bicycle around 1890. Suddenly, one way or another, Broadway had become the visitor destination that it has been ever since. The coming of motor cars simply opened the village to more people from further away than bicycles might have carried them. It did little for rail travel, however, and Broadway lost its passenger train service in 1960.


The essential character of the place has also been partly maintained by the building of the bypass: something that also split the village between residents who favoured it and principally the traders who were against it. In 1972, Broadway celebrated its one-thousandth anniversary, marking the date from the time in 972 that King Edgar granted a land charter to the Benedictine monastery at Pershore. At the same time as the village was preparing its millennium carnival, it was also hotly divided over the recently approved Village Plan that would relocate through-traffic onto a new bypass to the north. Broadway was built for horse traffic and accommodated well the stagecoaches that plied the route between London and Worcester. It was not built for its early entry on the page of tourism as the age of the motor car began. And it was much less able to accommodate later life in the fast lane of a rat-run for motor cars and juggernauts between Evesham and Stow. The lorries that thundered through, shaking the ancient buildings, shattering glass in the windows, and opening up cracks in the old fabric, were a cause of great concern. This was coupled with the summertime coach trade to a place that had experienced tourism for much longer than many others that were only just awakening to its benefits and disadvantages. Then, the majority of visitors to Broadway came by motor coaches, and there was a well-defined season. Today, Broadway is a year-long tourist destination, and most people have their own transport. Accommodating the cars presents difficulties in the bid to maintain the views of Broadway that are one of the main factors in its success.


One of those well-loved views is of the village built around its triangular-shaped green. By the end of the 12th century, markets were being held here under the auspices of the monks of Pershore, and the rights to a weekly market and a three-day fair were granted in 1251. It all took place about this extremely wide part of the village, laid out to accommodate livestock and trade, and now the place where visitors sit under the canopies of the trees that line and punctuate one of the most beautiful greens in the Cotswolds.


Once the A44 bypass had been opened in 1998 and through-traffic diverted, the village could be kept cleaner and was less subject to traffic vibration and general erosion. Owners invested in their buildings, and this is evident from the quality of the build fabric; and visitors were not put off. They might be now if today's increased volume of traffic had still to flow through Broadway; it is a much better place because of the bypass. It is also somewhere that can be explored much more safely on foot than previously. Parking in the best spots has been kept to a minimum, and there is usually ample parking available elsewhere in the village. The place is small enough to be easily covered on foot.


The beauty of the village, which makes it so attractive to artists and visitors from all over the world, has very much to do with the Cotswold character of its buildings and the local stone in which they are built. Part of the Trust's remit is to ensure that planners and developers are aware of the quarries that historically provided the material for Broadway's buildings, the sort of stone that is available, and the considerable extent of local product that is still to be quarried. This enables new build to match in with adjacent, old houses. The Trust also owns property in the village, the village green, and land that it operates sustainably on the prevailing escarpment.


However, the future of Pevsner's famously described 'show village' could be decided on how it is affected under the terms of the West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy. The prospect of a Broadway in which rural integrity and infrastructure would necessarily be compromised is currently exercising those who believe that the village would thereby be on the verge of losing its intellectual heritage. There is a resistance in the community to accepting what many feel would result in bolt-on housing developments that would not be sustainable for Broadway without changing the whole nature of the place.


The village has always resisted this kind of expansion; even the notion that it is effectively as much a Cotswold 'town' as are Moreton-in-Marsh and Chipping Campden, for example, is met with strong denial in many quarters. Broadway's appeal is its melding of endemic rurality, architecture, comparatively small size, predominantly visitor-oriented retailers and services, and topographical arrangement. It is much about the quality and unchanging nature of its high street, as an irresistible lure to visitors and tourists. These are crucial to its whole being. It is a place where a small alteration to any of these elements could affect its whole economy, and possibly the day-to-day way of life for its residents. The Trust has no doubt that any decision on housing numbers should only be taken after full consideration of the potential environmental consequences; for Broadway, this also means an account of its unique setting in the landscape.


The cause of the current discomfiture, the Regional Spatial Strategy, was a rumble that swiftly gathered momentum in the foothills of Whitehall at the turn of the millennium. At its heart is a nationwide accommodation problem: insufficient new affordable houses are being built to keep pace with demand, and severe infrastructure restraints are being imposed by house building in some areas. In addressing these, other socio-political and practical factors have also to be addressed. The Strategy is also concerned with employment, transport and other public services over the next couple of decades. One of its major objectives is to use new housing developments on existing brownfield sites to achieve a desired urban renaissance in conurbations, and engender rural renaissance through the adequate provision of affordable houses in rural areas. It is the latter that may affect Broadway.


The programme has been rolled out across specific regions, and devolves on local authorities. The West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy was published in 2004, and has since been the subject of a three-phase revision process, as required by the Secretary of State, in order to develop several of the issues covered by the original programme. Wychavon District Council, the local authority for Broadway, is responsible with others in the area for producing Local Development Documents for growth within the targets and policies of the revised Strategy. The latest phase-two revisions are being progressed by the West Midlands Regional Assembly, under a duty imposed on it by the Secretary of State.


The Broadway Trust is keeping an eye on developments. Before Gordon Brown's latest announcement to put 'affordable housing within the reach of not just the few but the many', under the existing plan to the year 2011, Wychavon District Council could been required to accommodate about 1,300 additional dwellings in what are perceived to be 'sustainable communities'. There are few areas outside Droitwich, Pershore and Evesham - all in the Wychavon district, and which might accommodate 1,000 of the total - that have a wide spectrum of available facilities, and therefore fall into this category. Broadway does, but it lacks adequate employment opportunities; it does not have the infrastructure to support another 300 houses; nor does it have the transport infrastructure that might allow many more people to live in the village but work elsewhere.


The Broadway Trust has made its views explicit to the Wychavon District Council, but the matter is, for the time being at least, out of their hands. Gordon Brown's intention to 'free up the planning process' is, however, a matter of some concern for the Trust, which crucially comments constructively on the planning process through machinery that has long been in place and works well. The Trust feels that 'free up' might mean 'take away', and the intention to introduce a Planning Reform Bill in the next Parliament that would speed up major housing projects by streamlining the system has only added to its concerns.


Much additional housing would also require a considerable investment in the infrastructure; even were this to be forthcoming, it might substantially change the nature of Broadway. It is a very self-contained village, its population demography is predominantly middle-aged to elderly, and it flourishes in terms of social activities, with a very comprehensive list of well supported organisations. Like most Cotswold villages, it does not offer a great deal of the kinds of social opportunities that characterise the lifestyles of the under-30s in the large Cotswold towns, even though the youth club and the sports clubs try very hard to encourage a young membership. However, Broadway is not about sudden change. It is about an organic growth that allows it to retain all of the characteristics that have made it what it is today.


Broadway has already had a taste of the possible. A couple of years ago, The Russells development was opened off High Street; this is effectively a rural village within a village, and contains the new superstore. Here was a 4.5-acre brownfield site, albeit one of some historic value and craft-based commercial heritage, which had nonetheless been abandoned in its traditional sense. The withdrawal of Gordon Russell, the furniture-making business that established there in 1923, left a substantial plot of ramshackle properties whose potential admirably fitted the Government's requirements for brownfield redevelopment. In its latter years, the Russell buildings were deteriorating; money was not being invested in them, or in the 16th- and 17th-century buildings and relocated 15th-century timber-framed overhang that front The Green. The developer of the site was required to restore these listed buildings, and the result is a very attractive roadscape at the heart of the village. An art gallery and a restaurant are a wonderful introduction to the new work.


Architecturally, The Russells is a perfect contemporary fit with the old, as it includes many elements of the historic Cotswold vernacular. It provided fifty-three luxury homes, twenty-four elements of social housing, a three-storey block of sheltered accommodation for the elderly, and a commercial section. The supermarket on the site is architecturally pleasing, well built, and has not materially affected the smaller businesses in the village. The mixed use was in accordance with the local authority's requirements for residential development and other concomitant factors. Broadway feels that the regeneration of the Gordon Russell site should be considered as the village's contribution to new housing in the rural areas, under any requirements of the Spatial Strategy. It is a point that will almost certainly be used in the future if there is pressure on Broadway to accept additional housing.


Yet all of this notwithstanding, and despite the imposed safeguards, there were those who felt that the Russell redevelopment would result in a social imbalance. Others saw it as the opportunity to import new blood and develop an improved commercial infrastructure. The village feared at the outset that this would be just another development of executive houses, and not a mixed site to the extent suggested by Wychavon District Council. Most residents concede that 'it is not unattractive', and worries about resulting local traffic congestion have dissipated. However, its potential for employment has been slight, and, according to the Broadway Trust, figures show that no more than half of the properties are being occupied for twelve months of the year. The rest have been bought as weekend homes or speculative investments.


This Broadway experience raises an important question that could have national implications for the house-building programme. The Broadway Trust raises the point that if only half of the Russell development is actually being lived in because the owners live elsewhere and have bought the property for other reasons, this may continue to happen in the case of any imposed new build in the area. Is there, they wonder, the real need for so many new houses to be built anyway? Probably the Government will give little thought to the Broadway experience. But the point is relevant, and could be made wherever the national home-building strategy encroaches on rural areas that have also become prime targets for those who can afford second homes. This is surely not in the spirit of what the Government means by the 'affordable private housing' it intends to deliver in increased quantities over the next few years.


Whilst Broadway debates its build future with some apprehension, the village continues to offer one of the most satisfying visual experiences in the Cotswolds. Creeper- and wisteria-clad, cottage-gardened, and ornamentally manicured; its golden stone and timber-framing presenting a rising backdrop of centuries of Cotswold vernacular; here is a multi-layering of beauty and heritage displayed at every level. Small wonder that foreign tourists, having photographed the cottage exteriors, and being unappreciative of residential privacy, then expect to be admitted into private homes for tours of inspection. In one way, this is a compliment to the continuing high quality of the place: the outsides promise sufficient to make the interiors irresistible.


Of course, Broadway does not stop there. It is a centre for art galleries wherein you will find original work by old masters and youthful contemporaries, and prints for those who prefer a less expensive alternative. Numerous crafts are represented, and it abounds in gift shops, as well as all of the traders you might expect to find in what is essentially a country town - by Cotswold standards - that is still very careful to describe itself as a village. It has two of the most characteristic hotels in the Cotswolds: the Lygon Arms is an impressive symphony of history played in the style of the great Cotswold hotels; the Broadway Hotel is an exquisite concerto by comparison. The former - multi- award-winning, and the epitome of contemporary high-end service - dominates a whole section of High Street; it is solid and bold, golden, and baronial; and within, the past is omnipresent and thickly impressed into its walls. The latter hotel represents medievalism beside The Green; its lineage is less grand - more hall house and cottage - but it is charming and very comfortable in a quintessentially English way. At the Lygon Arms, you will look for the shadows of cavaliers; at the Broadway Hotel, you will be on the watch for those of monks.


Hostelries have always been important to Broadway, for looking after visitors and for helping to facilitate trade at the old markets. Long before the so-called age of leisure, the village expanded to take on travellers. As the number of coaches increased in the 18th century, so did the size of its inns and the quantity of stabling attached to them.


Then there is retail Broadway generally, which continues to attract new traders year-on-year. Established ones also tend to keep their eye on potentially more favourable sites coming up for sale, so visitors who know Broadway well are aware of occasional relocations. Certainly many of the shops have an eye to the tourists, but that only gives a wider and frequently eclectic choice for visitors and residents alike - old-fashioned sweet shop, seller of Australian artefacts, and an outlet dedicated to Christmas, being examples. It is one of those places where the shops are invariably staffed by their owners, or such long-time assistants that for all practical purposes there is very little difference. This means that customers are served by someone who knows the stock well, has an interest in it, and has the authority to offer a very satisfactory shopping experience. The high quality of the merchandise reflects this, as well as the comparative affluence and good taste of those who are their regular customers.


There are several very good tea shops, restaurant bars, and public houses. Broadway has learned how to live with its reputation and how to shape it to its advantage, and it does not disappoint in any respect.





All is not well in paradise. The news that Gordon Brown is planning to build three million new homes by 2020 - a quarter of a million more than stated under the previous Prime Minister - has got rural campaigners everywhere in a tizzy. In little Broadway, which feels that it has lately done its bit in this respect, the announcement that the national annual target for new build is to be increased to 240,000 by 2016 has caused much disquiet. The Broadway Trust is closely monitoring the situation; the village is already holding its breath in anticipation of a house-building outcome that it might perceive to be unfavourable under the revised West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy.


The Broadway Trust was established in 1963 by a group of residents who were then concerned about the proposed redevelopment of the Lifford Gardens area behind Russell House. It has since been active in planning matters for Broadway and in working 'for the active conservation of the essential character of the village and its rural surroundings'. This does not necessarily mean preservation at all costs, as if Broadway should become a vacuous museum piece. It can be preserved only if people are able to live and work there, enabling the trades and services to thrive, which are essential for a vibrant economy. This in turn helps to finance and maintain the very character that is so pleasurable to visitors and tourists.


This character has built up over centuries, and has as much to do with the use that has been made of Broadway as it does the timber framing and the stonework of its buildings. For centuries, the village was a great coaching centre, its hostelries ideally placed where travel-weary passengers might be fed and watered, and tired horses changed for ones that could freshly tackle the nearby escarpment. The stagecoaches rattled their last along the unmade roads, following the opening of the London, Oxford and Worcester railway line in 1856; within four years, trains were pulling into Evesham. Once its days as a stagecoach stopping centre were over, Broadway settled back into anonymity.


The resulting quietude attracted William Morris, who nonetheless showed the village to his artistic friends; they, in turn, spread the word, and before long a succession of painters were sufficiently captivated by this attractive spot to either rent or buy properties. Broadway became famous for the people who lived there, and for the picturesque beauty that was inspiring their work. People came to the village, eager to see both, and Broadway became, in 1904, busy enough to have its own railway station. This coincided with what amounted to a public obsession for bicycling in the countryside, which gripped the Edwardians, following the full development of the pneumatic safety bicycle around 1890. Suddenly, one way or another, Broadway had become the visitor destination that it has been ever since. The coming of motor cars simply opened the village to more people from further away than bicycles might have carried them. It did little for rail travel, however, and Broadway lost its passenger train service in 1960.


The essential character of the place has also been partly maintained by the building of the bypass: something that also split the village between residents who favoured it and principally the traders who were against it. In 1972, Broadway celebrated its one-thousandth anniversary, marking the date from the time in 972 that King Edgar granted a land charter to the Benedictine monastery at Pershore. At the same time as the village was preparing its millennium carnival, it was also hotly divided over the recently approved Village Plan that would relocate through-traffic onto a new bypass to the north. Broadway was built for horse traffic and accommodated well the stagecoaches that plied the route between London and Worcester. It was not built for its early entry on the page of tourism as the age of the motor car began. And it was much less able to accommodate later life in the fast lane of a rat-run for motor cars and juggernauts between Evesham and Stow. The lorries that thundered through, shaking the ancient buildings, shattering glass in the windows, and opening up cracks in the old fabric, were a cause of great concern. This was coupled with the summertime coach trade to a place that had experienced tourism for much longer than many others that were only just awakening to its benefits and disadvantages. Then, the majority of visitors to Broadway came by motor coaches, and there was a well-defined season. Today, Broadway is a year-long tourist destination, and most people have their own transport. Accommodating the cars presents difficulties in the bid to maintain the views of Broadway that are one of the main factors in its success.


One of those well-loved views is of the village built around its triangular-shaped green. By the end of the 12th century, markets were being held here under the auspices of the monks of Pershore, and the rights to a weekly market and a three-day fair were granted in 1251. It all took place about this extremely wide part of the village, laid out to accommodate livestock and trade, and now the place where visitors sit under the canopies of the trees that line and punctuate one of the most beautiful greens in the Cotswolds.


Once the A44 bypass had been opened in 1998 and through-traffic diverted, the village could be kept cleaner and was less subject to traffic vibration and general erosion. Owners invested in their buildings, and this is evident from the quality of the build fabric; and visitors were not put off. They might be now if today's increased volume of traffic had still to flow through Broadway; it is a much better place because of the bypass. It is also somewhere that can be explored much more safely on foot than previously. Parking in the best spots has been kept to a minimum, and there is usually ample parking available elsewhere in the village. The place is small enough to be easily covered on foot.


The beauty of the village, which makes it so attractive to artists and visitors from all over the world, has very much to do with the Cotswold character of its buildings and the local stone in which they are built. Part of the Trust's remit is to ensure that planners and developers are aware of the quarries that historically provided the material for Broadway's buildings, the sort of stone that is available, and the considerable extent of local product that is still to be quarried. This enables new build to match in with adjacent, old houses. The Trust also owns property in the village, the village green, and land that it operates sustainably on the prevailing escarpment.


However, the future of Pevsner's famously described 'show village' could be decided on how it is affected under the terms of the West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy. The prospect of a Broadway in which rural integrity and infrastructure would necessarily be compromised is currently exercising those who believe that the village would thereby be on the verge of losing its intellectual heritage. There is a resistance in the community to accepting what many feel would result in bolt-on housing developments that would not be sustainable for Broadway without changing the whole nature of the place.


The village has always resisted this kind of expansion; even the notion that it is effectively as much a Cotswold 'town' as are Moreton-in-Marsh and Chipping Campden, for example, is met with strong denial in many quarters. Broadway's appeal is its melding of endemic rurality, architecture, comparatively small size, predominantly visitor-oriented retailers and services, and topographical arrangement. It is much about the quality and unchanging nature of its high street, as an irresistible lure to visitors and tourists. These are crucial to its whole being. It is a place where a small alteration to any of these elements could affect its whole economy, and possibly the day-to-day way of life for its residents. The Trust has no doubt that any decision on housing numbers should only be taken after full consideration of the potential environmental consequences; for Broadway, this also means an account of its unique setting in the landscape.


The cause of the current discomfiture, the Regional Spatial Strategy, was a rumble that swiftly gathered momentum in the foothills of Whitehall at the turn of the millennium. At its heart is a nationwide accommodation problem: insufficient new affordable houses are being built to keep pace with demand, and severe infrastructure restraints are being imposed by house building in some areas. In addressing these, other socio-political and practical factors have also to be addressed. The Strategy is also concerned with employment, transport and other public services over the next couple of decades. One of its major objectives is to use new housing developments on existing brownfield sites to achieve a desired urban renaissance in conurbations, and engender rural renaissance through the adequate provision of affordable houses in rural areas. It is the latter that may affect Broadway.


The programme has been rolled out across specific regions, and devolves on local authorities. The West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy was published in 2004, and has since been the subject of a three-phase revision process, as required by the Secretary of State, in order to develop several of the issues covered by the original programme. Wychavon District Council, the local authority for Broadway, is responsible with others in the area for producing Local Development Documents for growth within the targets and policies of the revised Strategy. The latest phase-two revisions are being progressed by the West Midlands Regional Assembly, under a duty imposed on it by the Secretary of State.


The Broadway Trust is keeping an eye on developments. Before Gordon Brown's latest announcement to put 'affordable housing within the reach of not just the few but the many', under the existing plan to the year 2011, Wychavon District Council could been required to accommodate about 1,300 additional dwellings in what are perceived to be 'sustainable communities'. There are few areas outside Droitwich, Pershore and Evesham - all in the Wychavon district, and which might accommodate 1,000 of the total - that have a wide spectrum of available facilities, and therefore fall into this category. Broadway does, but it lacks adequate employment opportunities; it does not have the infrastructure to support another 300 houses; nor does it have the transport infrastructure that might allow many more people to live in the village but work elsewhere.


The Broadway Trust has made its views explicit to the Wychavon District Council, but the matter is, for the time being at least, out of their hands. Gordon Brown's intention to 'free up the planning process' is, however, a matter of some concern for the Trust, which crucially comments constructively on the planning process through machinery that has long been in place and works well. The Trust feels that 'free up' might mean 'take away', and the intention to introduce a Planning Reform Bill in the next Parliament that would speed up major housing projects by streamlining the system has only added to its concerns.


Much additional housing would also require a considerable investment in the infrastructure; even were this to be forthcoming, it might substantially change the nature of Broadway. It is a very self-contained village, its population demography is predominantly middle-aged to elderly, and it flourishes in terms of social activities, with a very comprehensive list of well supported organisations. Like most Cotswold villages, it does not offer a great deal of the kinds of social opportunities that characterise the lifestyles of the under-30s in the large Cotswold towns, even though the youth club and the sports clubs try very hard to encourage a young membership. However, Broadway is not about sudden change. It is about an organic growth that allows it to retain all of the characteristics that have made it what it is today.


Broadway has already had a taste of the possible. A couple of years ago, The Russells development was opened off High Street; this is effectively a rural village within a village, and contains the new superstore. Here was a 4.5-acre brownfield site, albeit one of some historic value and craft-based commercial heritage, which had nonetheless been abandoned in its traditional sense. The withdrawal of Gordon Russell, the furniture-making business that established there in 1923, left a substantial plot of ramshackle properties whose potential admirably fitted the Government's requirements for brownfield redevelopment. In its latter years, the Russell buildings were deteriorating; money was not being invested in them, or in the 16th- and 17th-century buildings and relocated 15th-century timber-framed overhang that front The Green. The developer of the site was required to restore these listed buildings, and the result is a very attractive roadscape at the heart of the village. An art gallery and a restaurant are a wonderful introduction to the new work.


Architecturally, The Russells is a perfect contemporary fit with the old, as it includes many elements of the historic Cotswold vernacular. It provided fifty-three luxury homes, twenty-four elements of social housing, a three-storey block of sheltered accommodation for the elderly, and a commercial section. The supermarket on the site is architecturally pleasing, well built, and has not materially affected the smaller businesses in the village. The mixed use was in accordance with the local authority's requirements for residential development and other concomitant factors. Broadway feels that the regeneration of the Gordon Russell site should be considered as the village's contribution to new housing in the rural areas, under any requirements of the Spatial Strategy. It is a point that will almost certainly be used in the future if there is pressure on Broadway to accept additional housing.


Yet all of this notwithstanding, and despite the imposed safeguards, there were those who felt that the Russell redevelopment would result in a social imbalance. Others saw it as the opportunity to import new blood and develop an improved commercial infrastructure. The village feared at the outset that this would be just another development of executive houses, and not a mixed site to the extent suggested by Wychavon District Council. Most residents concede that 'it is not unattractive', and worries about resulting local traffic congestion have dissipated. However, its potential for employment has been slight, and, according to the Broadway Trust, figures show that no more than half of the properties are being occupied for twelve months of the year. The rest have been bought as weekend homes or speculative investments.


This Broadway experience raises an important question that could have national implications for the house-building programme. The Broadway Trust raises the point that if only half of the Russell development is actually being lived in because the owners live elsewhere and have bought the property for other reasons, this may continue to happen in the case of any imposed new build in the area. Is there, they wonder, the real need for so many new houses to be built anyway? Probably the Government will give little thought to the Broadway experience. But the point is relevant, and could be made wherever the national home-building strategy encroaches on rural areas that have also become prime targets for those who can afford second homes. This is surely not in the spirit of what the Government means by the 'affordable private housing' it intends to deliver in increased quantities over the next few years.


Whilst Broadway debates its build future with some apprehension, the village continues to offer one of the most satisfying visual experiences in the Cotswolds. Creeper- and wisteria-clad, cottage-gardened, and ornamentally manicured; its golden stone and timber-framing presenting a rising backdrop of centuries of Cotswold vernacular; here is a multi-layering of beauty and heritage displayed at every level. Small wonder that foreign tourists, having photographed the cottage exteriors, and being unappreciative of residential privacy, then expect to be admitted into private homes for tours of inspection. In one way, this is a compliment to the continuing high quality of the place: the outsides promise sufficient to make the interiors irresistible.


Of course, Broadway does not stop there. It is a centre for art galleries wherein you will find original work by old masters and youthful contemporaries, and prints for those who prefer a less expensive alternative. Numerous crafts are represented, and it abounds in gift shops, as well as all of the traders you might expect to find in what is essentially a country town - by Cotswold standards - that is still very careful to describe itself as a village. It has two of the most characteristic hotels in the Cotswolds: the Lygon Arms is an impressive symphony of history played in the style of the great Cotswold hotels; the Broadway Hotel is an exquisite concerto by comparison. The former - multi- award-winning, and the epitome of contemporary high-end service - dominates a whole section of High Street; it is solid and bold, golden, and baronial; and within, the past is omnipresent and thickly impressed into its walls. The latter hotel represents medievalism beside The Green; its lineage is less grand - more hall house and cottage - but it is charming and very comfortable in a quintessentially English way. At the Lygon Arms, you will look for the shadows of cavaliers; at the Broadway Hotel, you will be on the watch for those of monks.


Hostelries have always been important to Broadway, for looking after visitors and for helping to facilitate trade at the old markets. Long before the so-called age of leisure, the village expanded to take on travellers. As the number of coaches increased in the 18th century, so did the size of its inns and the quantity of stabling attached to them.


Then there is retail Broadway generally, which continues to attract new traders year-on-year. Established ones also tend to keep their eye on potentially more favourable sites coming up for sale, so visitors who know Broadway well are aware of occasional relocations. Certainly many of the shops have an eye to the tourists, but that only gives a wider and frequently eclectic choice for visitors and residents alike - old-fashioned sweet shop, seller of Australian artefacts, and an outlet dedicated to Christmas, being examples. It is one of those places where the shops are invariably staffed by their owners, or such long-time assistants that for all practical purposes there is very little difference. This means that customers are served by someone who knows the stock well, has an interest in it, and has the authority to offer a very satisfactory shopping experience. The high quality of the merchandise reflects this, as well as the comparative affluence and good taste of those who are their regular customers.


There are several very good tea shops, restaurant bars, and public houses. Broadway has learned how to live with its reputation and how to shape it to its advantage, and it does not disappoint in any respect.




(Suggestion for panel)



If you go to Broadway to look around the galleries, you will soon realise that the name of Noott is synonymous with art in the village. The family has been in business there since 1972, and now owns the gallery at Dickens House in the former Gordon Russell furniture showroom, the Broadway Modern beside The Green, and Broadway Editions in the Huntings - which collectively go under the name of the John Noott Galleries. The family lives at Farnham House, a distinguished historic Cotswold-style house on The Green that was once home to the Lord of the Manor and was visited by the American post-impressionist portrait and landscape painter John Singer Sargent, who may have painted there.


Edward Noott, son of the galleries' founder, has a studio at Farnham House, as he did in his parents' previous house in Broadway. He has been a professional artist for seventeen years. Edward trained at Cheltenham College of Art, then Trent University, and State University of New York. His work is represented in America at the J M Stringer Gallery of New Jersey, in Broadway, and variously elsewhere in England, but notably at galleries in Long Melford, Suffolk, and Rye, Sussex. Edward is a realist painter of predominantly naturalistic still life and figures done exclusively in oils, and is very much attracted to flower arrangements, garden scenes, still life within landscapes, and the countryside. His painting Poppies, near Stow-on-the-Wold, shown here, is a good example of his style, and of the clear light that characterises his work. In his latest catalogue, he says of this that: 'The challenge for a realist painter is to accept that he has only white with which to depict the brightest light, consequently adjusting all the other colours so that a convincing and expressive portrayal of the scene is made'. Edward Noott's next one-man show at Dickens House, Broadway, takes place 15-30 September.



If you go to Broadway to look around the galleries, you will soon realise that the name of Noott is synonymous with art in the village. The family has been in business there since 1972, and now owns the gallery at Dickens House in the former Gordon Russell furniture showroom, the Broadway Modern beside The Green, and Broadway Editions in the Huntings - which collectively go under the name of the John Noott Galleries. The family lives at Farnham House, a distinguished historic Cotswold-style house on The Green that was once home to the Lord of the Manor and was visited by the American post-impressionist portrait and landscape painter John Singer Sargent, who may have painted there.


Edward Noott, son of the galleries' founder, has a studio at Farnham House, as he did in his parents' previous house in Broadway. He has been a professional artist for seventeen years. Edward trained at Cheltenham College of Art, then Trent University, and State University of New York. His work is represented in America at the J M Stringer Gallery of New Jersey, in Broadway, and variously elsewhere in England, but notably at galleries in Long Melford, Suffolk, and Rye, Sussex. Edward is a realist painter of predominantly naturalistic still life and figures done exclusively in oils, and is very much attracted to flower arrangements, garden scenes, still life within landscapes, and the countryside. His painting Poppies, near Stow-on-the-Wold, shown here, is a good example of his style, and of the clear light that characterises his work. In his latest catalogue, he says of this that: 'The challenge for a realist painter is to accept that he has only white with which to depict the brightest light, consequently adjusting all the other colours so that a convincing and expressive portrayal of the scene is made'. Edward Noott's next one-man show at Dickens House, Broadway, takes place 15-30 September.


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