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'Terror group' threatens new developments

The AJ has been handed a top-secret dossier from architecture's only known terrorist organisation - the Historic Buildings Liberation Front (HBLF).

Among the documents is a detailed list of new developments and conversions that the group has earmarked as 'legitimate targets' for attack due to their impact on the historic environment.

In the past, the illegal architectural activists have thrown white paint over new buildings, slashed developers'

car tyres and etched their initials into windows of recently completed buildings.

According to its manifesto, the HBLF has been forced to take up the fight to protect old buildings as a result of 'developers' greed and planners' indifference'.

A particular bugbear of the urban guerrillas is the demolition of former industrial and 'working' buildings, such as brick works, to make way for luxury homes.

One of the group's most high-profile attacks was on the offices of the Hitchin Youth Trust in Hertfordshire - which were due to be pulled down - where paint was thrown over trust members' cars.

Traditionally active in and around Bedfordshire, there is now evidence the HBLF wants to wage its anti-development war on a national basis.

Attached to the papers sent to the AJ are guidelines explaining how prospective members around the country should go about their own 'terrorism', including how to wipe fingerprints.

There is also a model calling card, which can be easily photocopied, that reads: 'New developments, built at the expense of historic buildings, shall be painted white.'

Although the anonymous protests have been erratic, the results have been no joke for the victims.

Graham Wright of MEPK Architects, Bedford, has experienced the HBLF at first hand. He said: 'We did get some paint daubed on a building we were working on in Kempston.

'The scheme was replacing an old corrugated-iron bus garage in the town.'

He added: 'The group has also carried out a few attacks on other buildings I know of - but the pattern seems to be sporadic.'

However, despite the number of incidents, the police have never been able to gather enough evidence

to pin the crimes on anyone.

A spokesman for Bedfordshire Police said: 'Periodically, an organisation calling itself the Historic Buildings Liberation Front makes contact with media outlets and local authorities to protest about a number of built-environment matters and make threats against old buildings which, typically, have been converted from

their original use.'

He added: 'While there is of course a legal right to protest about such things, making threats in this way is a criminal offence and we have actively investigated these in the past.'

by Richard Waite

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