Edenbridge is a small country town of some 8000 inhabitants, situated on a bend of the river Eden as it flows east to join the Medway near Tonbridge. The river valley lies between the hills of the greensand ridge to the north and the wooded slopes of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to the south.
Edenbridge Town Council, which manages local affairs, has offices in one of the most distinctive historic buildings in the Conservation Area. This complex of historic buildings also contains a local museum. Some of the historic buildings in the Area have been converted to other uses and are open to the public. Honours Mill, for example, is now the headquarters of a yachting holiday company.
Edenbridge Conservation Area is centred on the historic High Street and runs from just south of Stangrove Road in the north, extending almost to the extremities of the built confines of the town to the south of the River Eden. It covers 19 hectares and includes over 50 listed buildings, mainly situated in the High Street. Amongst the most important historic properties are the Old Crown Inn, the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul and Tanyard House.
Parts of Lingfield Road to the west are included within the Conservation Area as is the southern part of Hever Road and a considerable length of river frontage and the open land to the south on the eastern side. The area to the west of the bridge includes a section of riverside walk. Land to the rear of properties fronting High Street at this point and backing onto the river have recently been developed with new housing. In the south, Blossoms Park on the west side of Mill Hill is included, with its skate park and other recreational facilities, and is important to the setting of the Conservation Area as a whole.
The Area was designated because of its concentration of listed buildings and to protect the form of the original settlement which contains such a high number of important buildings surviving from earlier centuries. The High Street is part of a Roman Road and as such is quite unusual. The removal of large quantities of traffic from this historically sensitive area onto the inner relief road is welcomed. In historic areas, the presence of high quantities of traffic is a negative feature and this has now been minimised in the historic core of Edenbridge.
The buildings are mainly commercial and residential, with few of the industrialised areas being included, although the hospital falls within the boundary. The Conservation Area contains a section of High Street, which has been designated as primary retail frontage where only class A1 uses will normally be permitted on the ground floor of the premises, under EB2 of Sevenoaks District Local Plan adopted in 2000.
The development of the former tannery site (the Coop supermarket), which lies between the relief road and the High Street, is seen as an important economic boost for Edenbridge. Parts of the site are unfortunately quite stark with a lack of mature landscaping.
Edenbridge Town Forum produced a Village Design Statement, adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance by the District Council in July 1998. This document highlights the need for attention to sympathetic design detail and the incorporation of carefully considered landscaping schemes when considering new development in and around the town. Other issues such as roads and traffic, street furniture and public footpaths are also discussed. The document has been of value in preparing this Appraisal.
The Conservation Area has a variety of building types although the main ones are retail outlets and residential properties. The High Street has the majority of the retail use, interposed with an occasional domestic property, while the area south of the bridge is mainly residential, with the exception of the hospital and some small retail or storage premises.