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Heritage campaigners welcome boost for listed buildings

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Heritage campaigners have welcomed the government’s plans to increase the number of listed buildings across the UK 

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick has urged more local authorities to draw up local lists of buildings that are of significant historical and cultural value. 

Speaking at a Policy Exchange talk in Westminster, Jenrick said that currently only half of planning authorities in the UK hold local lists, and they are ‘often out of date or incomplete’.

Under the new scheme, which has been allocated £700,000, people will be encouraged to nominate buildings in their area and a heritage champion will be appointed to encourage councils’ local listings.

These activists will form a task force, which the government describes as a modern version of the ‘Monuments Men’ who recovered countless artworks from the Nazis during the Second World War.

Jenrick said: ‘At the heart of this will be local people as well as a new team of heritage activists, what we want to call the modern-day Monument’s Men and Women, who will be working across England to find these buildings and get them listed, locally or nationally as soon as possible.’

The government will start off with 10 English counties, which it will support to complete their local lists.

Heritage campaign group SAVE Britain’s Heritage welcomed the ‘terrific’ initiative. The group pointed out some of the buildings that remain unlisted, including Ringo Starr’s Liverpool house, the city’s Art-Deco Littlewoods building, and Southwark Tube station in London.

Marcus Binney, the group’s executive president said: ‘SAVE has been calling for 10 years for increased numbers of vulnerable historic buildings to be protected.

‘Yet year by year less historic buildings have been listed, and either demolished or left to rot as a result. Robert Jenrick’s announcement of £700,000 to speed up the process is magnificent.’

Chair of the RIBA’s conservation group Fiona Raley, said: ‘Our historic buildings reflect our society and contribute to our cultural identity. Protecting historic buildings and monuments from inappropriate change is a welcome start, but many still face uncertain futures.

’Without sufficient investment for repair, maintenance and appropriate interventions, we will not be able to ensure their long-term viability. We must all do more to protect the UK’s historic buildings – some of our most valuable assets – to ensure they exist for future generations to enjoy.’

Buildings nominated by residents will be put before the local authorities, who will decide if they should appear on the area’s local list.

While local listings are not given the same protection as nationally listed buildings, the local planning authority must take their listed status into account.

The Twentieth Century Society was also celebrating this week after Historic England agreed to grant Grade II listed status for a Barbara Hepworth’s sculpture in Cheltenham.

According to the society, the Theme and Variations triptych was at risk of being ‘removed from public view’ until it stepped in and campaigned for its protection (pictured below).

Hepworth’s artwork and the façade of the building which it is attached to, Healing and Overbury’s former Cheltenham and Gloucester Building Society HQ, were both listed.

Barbara hepworth © bowness

Barbara hepworth © bowness

Source: Bowness

  • 3 Comments

Readers' comments (3)

  • How about Robert Jenrick lending his weight to the long-futile calls for reform of the government's VAT discrimination against conserving existing buildings?

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  • I hope he or a hapless civil servant didn't really say (or rather issue a press release saying) "Monument’s Men"...if so, which is the lucky monument??

    Sounds fairly shallow. Local auths can list what they like locally but without power and cash to enforce, it's meaningless. Ditto any national listings.

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  • Local lists are not new, but maybe this will encourage those who don't have one to start. Our local council (Wandsworth) last year worked with all the local amenity societies on a comprehensive overhaul of their list. More of this, please.

    But VAT is the key issue. A 20% tax incentive to demolish and rebuild is bad for the planet - all that lost embedded carbon, and really bad for our heritage.

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