The Reason Listed Buildings Fall Apart

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From Our Swindon Correspondent. The reason listed buildings fall apart is because they’re listed, see?

Griff Rhys Jones, the president of the Victorian Society, has urged councils to protect derelict buildings that are of huge importance to Britain’s industrial heritage. His intervention followed a surge in vandalism at such sites, triggered in part by the new-found popularity of exploring abandoned buildings.

Last month it emerged that Shotton steelworks in north Wales – one of the society’s 10 most endangered buildings in 2018 – had been badly damaged. According to reports, vandals had knocked down partition walls, destroyed ornate panelling, and kicked in walls. Several fires had been lit and tiles thrown off the roof.

 
The Grade II-listed Tolly Cobbold brewery in Ipswich, which featured in the society’s 2015 top 10, suffered a major blaze last month. Two men in their 20s and a woman in her 40s were arrested on suspicion of arson and have been released pending further inquiries.

And last April, the Fisons factory in Bramford, described as “an irreplaceable part of Suffolk’s heritage” and featured in the society’s 2017 top 10, was burned to the ground by arsonists.


The vandalised buildings have often lain empty for years while their owners try to balance their plans for redevelopment against conservation restrictions. 
Let’s rephrase that last point: the owners have put plans into English Heritage, a government bureaucracy. English Heritage are extremely demanding, frequently beyond the point where development is financially viable. Developers scrap projects because they’ll lose money on them. They give it a few tries and eventually sell it to someone else who tries it and fails again.
The society says councils warn owners to improve security, but action is rarely taken. “Buildings under threat need strong security,” Rhys Jones said. “They need maintenance. They need alarms and lighting. Most of all they need concerted imagination and help to be brought back into the community quickly.”
Action is rarely taken because for many owners of listed buildings, after they’ve tried developing what’s there, the best thing that can happen is that a bunch of scrotes comes in with paraffin and matches and burns it to the ground. Because once it’s burnt to the ground, you’ve got a site without a listed building on it and no need to deal with English Heritage. They have zero incentive to install an alarm system and protect the building.
The listing process is destructive in this country, utterly warped. We’ve always cannibalised buildings throughout history. Corn Exchanges becoming concert halls, extra bits stuck on Hampton Court. People got in and changed them. It is absurd that such buildings should be preserved in aspic, like they never were in their history.

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Phoenix44
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Phoenix44

It never ceases to amaze some people that others will not spend their money how they think they should. No matter how often this sort if thing happens.

moqifen
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moqifen

And fisons site which was actually owned by a demolition company “accidentally ” burnt down. It was of wooden construction so easy to burn – “accidentally” of course.

Bloke on M4
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Bloke on M4

You wouldn’t get me convicting them of a crime if I was in the jury. Burning down your own old crap to give people new homes is fine by me. It’s not like they burned down a much loved building like York Minster or the Royal Crescent.

Spike
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Spike

Other examples: The signature wooden balconies of historic residences in central Lima, in critical disrepair since they were declared a National Patrimony. In one nearby town, it is not enough to re-do a house’s wall so that it looks like wood from the Colonial Era. In the Historic District, it must be the real thing, and faithfully maintained. Serial owners have failed to reopen the cinema, too, though here it is the State Fire Marshal barking orders. Its lit marquee is “historic” too, though from an incompatible era with the wood siding. The crosswalks and fluorescent signage isn’t historic at… Read more »

Sam Vara
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Sam Vara

A bunch of scrotes with paraffin and matches?

You’ve obviously never tried it. Petrol is far better, and easier to get hold of.

Bernie G.
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Bernie G.

English Heritage, a government bureaucracy. English Heritage are extremely demanding, frequently beyond the point where development is financially viable.

My sole interaction with English Heritage was in developing a past residence. They were demanding but fair, willing to negotiate. I’d contrast it with local authority functionaries, that hadn’t the knowledge or authority to tell you the time of day. The former were, when pushed, proved more than happy to accommodate.

Bloke on M4
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Bloke on M4

maybe you had a good experience, but there’s a lot of buildings sitting, rotting. I can name two near where I live where the local authority want to see them brought back to use, where multiple people have tried to find a use, and the problem is EH.

Snarkus
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Snarkus

Same in Oz. In some places people trying to preserve and accurately restore settlement houses were fought by local councils. In Tasmania one can find restorations with plaques stating work was completed despite local historical societies and bureaucracies. In my local country town some old pubs (taverns to poms) have gone through 3 owners trying to get repairs and updating or repurposing done. All failed due to council deliberate hindering, partly driven by historical preservation busybodies. About time property rights were restored. Bureaucrats and busybodies want to mange some relic ? Buy at market rates or go away. Ironic that… Read more »

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

We have pubs in Pommie-land – tavern is a faux-antique term for a public house, see the large chain of Punch Taverns (now rebranded back to Punch Pubs).

Fred
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Fred

Allegedly Archway Steel suffered a similar terrible stroke of bad luck in the N17 area a few years ago. Police are hunting for a bald headed guy in a lilywhite and blue suit….