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Launceston developed as a market centre around the Norman castle, the earliest charter dating from 1225.

In the later historic period it was the commercial, administrative and industrial centre for its region. Launceston is a historic market town (population 7,040 in 2000), located at the eastern end of Cornwall, in the district of North Cornwall. It occupies a strategic position on the boundary between Devon and Cornwall and experiences considerable east-west and north-south traffic flow. It is the gateway to the county, being situated beside the main A30 spine road, which was upgraded to dual carriageway in 1993 and the A388 Holsworthy to Callington road. Its position makes it an attractive location for businesses, and it functions as a local service centre with a catchment area extending into West Devon. Furthermore its attractive location and wealth of historic buildings have generated a significant tourist industry. The key challenge is to safeguard the housing, employment, services and historic character within the town, to recognise its importance as a service centre for the surrounding agricultural hinterland, and to enable the tourist industry to continue to develop.

The downloads offered below represent the different elements of the CSUS Launceston Report including the core text, seven illustrative figures and eight character area summaries. The majority of the downloads are large files (to maintain some quality of image resolution) and therefore may take time to download.

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CSUS Launceston Report REPORT text detailing the results of the historic character study for the town of Launceston. Peter Herring & Bridget Gillard, Historic Environment Service..

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Figure 1 - Location & Topography Map Map showing the location of Launceston and its immediate topography.

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Figure 2 - Ordnance Survey 2nd Edition 1:2500 Map (c.1907) Map showing the town of Launceston in c.1907.

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Figure 3 - Historic Development Map Map showing the historic development and expansion of Launceston.

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Figure 4 - Historic Settlement Topography Map Map showing the historic topography of Launceston with key areas of historic activity.

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Figures 5.1 and 5.2 - Surviving Historic Components Maps Two maps showing the surviving historic buildings of Launceston. 5.1Format type: PDF 5.2Format type: PDF 502/460kb
Figure 6.1 and 6.2 - Urban Archaeological Potential Maps Maps showing the areas and sites of archaeological potential in Launceston.

6.1Format type: PDF

6.2Format type: PDF


Figure 7 - Character Areas Map Map showing the seven character areas identified by the survey of Launceston.

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Character Area 1a Commercial Core – Medieval Dunheved This is the busy heart of Launceston, its historic and commercial core - the main shopping and tourist centre. The area has an intrinsic quality due in part to the high survival of historic buildings. (The history of Cornish buildings from medieval times to the present day can be traced within the confines of the original town walls.) Other elements of the area’s quality include the dynamic street pattern and the superior views. Such is the special character of this area that insensitive street design or inappropriate new development is particularly keenly felt.

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Character Area 1b Commercial Core – Early Suburbs This area plays a crucial role in the civic life of the town and still retains some importance commercially. Despite some losses there is still a good survival of historic fabric in this area – including some significant individual structures as well as charmingly preserved groups of buildings. The original medieval street pattern adds to the charm and historic integrity of the area.

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Character Area 2 St Stephens The key significance of St Stephens lies in its status as the earliest settlement in Launceston - the remnants of which still survive in the street pattern and parts of the church fabric. The area has high archaeological potential as arguably the most important of the early Cornish towns. In addition to its early role the settlement remains of interest due to the high survival of historic buildings (nine listed buildings survive in Duke Street alone) and the lack of inappropriate modern intrusion within the historic core. The village is of further interest due to its development by the Werrington estate.

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Character Area 3 Newport A medieval borough and market site with a number of surviving elements such as the market cross shaft and the open market place. Further late medieval elements still survive - the burgage plot gardens and some sixteenth century houses. Such early urban survivals are unusual in Cornwall. Newport is not a suburb of Launceston, but a significant historic settlement in its own right, and deserves special recognition and treatment.

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Character Area 4a The Kensey Valley – Medieval St Thomas This area is of great value for its fascinating medieval history focused on St Thomas’ Priory. In addition there are still surviving elements of its industrial and railway past all located in a picturesque setting. St Thomas is beginning to evolve as a recreational area and there is potential for this to be developed further and to include its great historic and architectural elements.

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Character Area 4b The Kensey Valley – Industrial St Thomas This was part of the original industrial heartland of Launceston. The area has been redeveloped as a modern industrial estate and although many of its historic buildings have been lost, particularly those associated with the railway, there are still a number surviving which should be preserved. These buildings add variety and historic interest to an otherwise rather utilitarian area.

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Character Area 5a Later Suburbs – Planned Later Development This is an area of middle-class housing set amongst informal green spaces and the formal green areas of the recreational and pleasure grounds. This area represents an important leisure amenity for the town, and a generally well preserved example of late nineteenth and early twentieth century town planning.

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Character Area 5b Later Suburbs Speculative later development and Public Housing This area, due to the survival of open green spaces, a number of small agricultural buildings and the space left by the former cattle market, still retains an informal character and the remnants of its recent undeveloped past. In addition there is a strongly residential element with areas of early twentieth century terraces and planned public housing.

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