Swanpool Garden Suburb has a coherent townscape formed by the houses, which, although varied in terms of detailing and building footprint, are unified in terms of scale, height (two storeys) and, most importantly, architectural style, including significant elements such as roofline and window size. The area includes Almond Avenue, Hartsholme Drive, Cherry Grove and Westwood Close and part of the north side of Skellingthorpe Road.
One of the most distinctive elements repeated throughout the Character Area is the steeply pitched clay tiled roof with varying eaves heights, varying windows and projections at some corners with substantial brick chimneys and overhanging eaves, which give the area a strong roofscape. Many of the houses have short projecting extensions. There is a variety of house types within the area including semi-detached and rows of houses but all are two storeys in height and none are detached. All the houses have solid brick walls and are rendered in roughcast and painted in various pastel shades. Windows are generally small but vary in style and include many examples of the dormers and bay windows that are typical Arts and Crafts features. The small windows give an overall high solid-to-void ratio and provide strong repeating rhythms throughout the Character Area. Façade detailing is limited to slightly projecting string courses and lintels, exposed brick courses and plain architraves with classically derived door surrounds.
Figure 2 The Arts and Crafts style of architecture placed a strong emphasis on regional vernacular architecture and exaggerated ‘traditional’ elements such as tall chimneys and steeply pitched roofs
All houses face on to the street and the almost continuous building line, small spaces between houses, relatively wide frontages and regular doorways and windows result in active street frontages throughout the area. The houses are set well back from the public/private boundary.
The two rows of houses at the corner of Almond Avenue and Skellingthorpe Road provide an impressive gateway to the suburb although they continue the same height and scale as the rest of the buildings in the area. Front gardens are relatively small with hedges and gates facing on to the footpath. There is a broad horizontal emphasis in the Character Area with the strong roofscape and eaves line, the rendered walls, rows of small windows, especially below the eaves as well as the hedges. However, confined views close to the buildings can give a vertical emphasis with details such as the steep roofs, chimneys and some projecting two storey gabled extensions.
Figure 3 Rows of houses at the corner of Almond Avenue/Skellingthorpe Road provide an impressive gateway to the suburb even though they are the same scale as the other buildings
The topography of the area is flat with tarmac streets of two-cars’ width laid out in a straight pattern with one strong curved corner. The block structure is long and narrow and impermeable plot boundaries to the north and west of the area provide a boundary that effectively restricts access to the Character Area to that via Skellingthorpe Road. Skellingthorpe Road is a busy main road and provides the link from the Character Area to the rest of the city. The rest of the area is made up of quiet, relatively wide residential streets, with one residential square, a cul-de-sac and some pedestrian footpaths crossing the blocks to provide access to garages. There is a strong sense of enclosure created by the tall hedges, mature trees planted along the streets, steeply pitched roofs and a building line which generally only has small gaps between houses. The trees, hedges, wide grass verges, front gardens and large narrow rear gardens give the area a leafy, peaceful atmosphere. The only open public space is the grassed area at Westwood Close which was formerly larger but is now partly used for parking.
As the majority of houses do not have garages there are many cars parked on the streets, but there is little vehicular through-traffic away from Skellingthorpe Road where there is a high volume of traffic throughout the day. There is some pedestrian activity during the day. Original lampposts are still in situ as are cast-iron utility covers.