A TINY set of cottages dating back more than 100 years could be protected as Southend Council considers creating a new conservation area.

Following a public consultation, the council is proposing to create a conservation area for the almshouses in Chelmsford Avenue, which would mean planning permission is needed for any adaptations to the homes The Dowsett Almshouses consist of eight single-storey houses arranged around a courtyard.

The almshouses, built in 1904 thanks to the first mayor of Southend Thomas Dowsett, nestle between two two-storey semi-detached houses included in the scheme.

Southend cabinet will meet tomorrow to discuss a recommendation to create the new conservation area.

Derek Jarvis, councillor responsible for arts, culture, heritage and leisure, said: “It’s been looked at for quite a while. We take a responsibility for them and it’s not as though we haven’t cared for them but I was delighted with the proposal. This is the sort of thing that conservation areas and local listing can deal with.

“There are issues where people want to make whole areas conservation areas and that comes with all sorts of problems that affect daily life. It’s better to pick off buildings in locations and make them properly listed with Historic England or locally listed then they are protected for all time.”

The homes were once used to house poor Prittlewell residents over the age of 65.

If approved, planning permission would be needed for a number of changes to the buildings.

These include the installation of hardstanding for vehicles, alterations to walls, gates and fences, alteration of windows or doors and the painting or rendering of brickwork of the cottages.

A report to cabinet said: “The city’s conservation areas have special value for the community. They are visible links with our past and offer attractive contrasts to modern environments, so it is important to ensure the special character of these areas is protected and sympathetic enhancements encouraged.”