Architecture Minister Margaret Hodge has gone against English Heritage’s recommendations again and turned down a bid to list the 1937 Slough Town Hall
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The DCMS decision to ignore EH completes a hat-trick of recent rejections for 20th century buildings, having ignored calls to list John Madin’s 1974 Birmingham Library and BDP’s 1969 Preston bus station.
EH had urged the minister to give the Neo-Classical, Swedish-style landmark a Grade II listing claiming the hall – a competition-winning design by Charles Holloway James and Steven Rowland Pierce – was ‘one of Slough’s key buildings’ and boasted a ‘subtle architectural quality and high order of intactness’ (full recommendation attached).
However, Hodge disagreed and said that, although it had been designed by ‘two of the leading municipal architects of the era’, the hall was not of ‘special interest’ nor ‘remarkable for its planning features or technical aspects’ (full decision letter attached).
The move has been welcomed by the borough council, which is looking at ‘several possible uses for the site’.
The Twentieth Century Society said it was ‘extremely disappointed’ by the decision. Joanna Moore, the Society’s caseworker for Berkshire said: ‘[Following on from Birmingham and Preston] this shows a worrying trend of the Department bowing to outside parties rather than the expertise of their own advisors.
‘A tragically high quantity of good buildings have been demolished in Slough in recent years, including grand Art Deco-styled factories by the likes of Wallis Gilbert and high-quality post-war offices.
She added: ‘More are to come down as the town tries to erase its past and reinvent itself. John Betjeman’s praise for its architecture as ‘a striving for unity out of chaos’ in 1948 has never been so relevant as today.C20 believe that the redevelopment of the Town Hall would be an act of vandalism to the civic centre and is supporting the Campaign to Save Slough’s Heritage in their request for a review of the decision.’
Hodge rejects EH listing advice for a third time