Give automatic interim protection to buildings proposed for listing
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Our built heritage is irreplaceable, and most people recognise its cultural and economic value. Listed buildings are given special protection by law, and it is a criminal offence to damage them, but current UK legislation offers no automatic interim protection to buildings which are under consideration for listing. As a result, over many years a long string of historic buildings have been destroyed or deliberately vandalised in order to prevent them being listed. Most famously the art Deco Firestone building in West London was bulldozed over a bank holiday weekend. Since then the same fate has befallen buildings ranging from important industrial heritage to ancient country pubs. More recently a rare and beautiful Jacobean ceiling in a former restaurant in Bristol was ripped out before it could be assessed for listing. It had survived the civil war. It had survived the industrial revolution. It had survived the Blitz and the depredations of 1960's town planning - only to be smashed to pieces as soon as it was put forward for listing.
If a local authority considers a building to be at special risk, they can choose to serve a Building Preservation Notice. But local authorities are reluctant to issue Building Preservation Notices, and often there is no prior reason to suspect that the owner will damage the building. Only a handful of BPN's are issued each year.
Numerous organisations including The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, The Victorian Society, Bristol Heritage Forum and The Twentieth Century Society are calling for change to provide interim protection.
In Wales buildings under consideration for listing are automatically given interim protection while their status is decided. But the UK parliament has failed to support similar legislation, which was previously proposed in 2008. If this legislation had been introduced when first proposed, many historic buildings might have been saved. The longer it takes to close this planning loophole, the more of our history and culture we will loose.
I urge the UK government to amend the law to ensure that vulnerable historic buildings in the rest of the UK have the same protection as those in Wales.
Draft 2008 Heritage Protection Bill: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/22858205/7349.pdf
Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016: http://cadw.gov.wales/historicenvironment/policy/historicenvironmentbill/?lang=en
Sittingbourne Paper Mill and Blue Boys Inn: https://cprekent.org.uk/news/standing-kents-built-heritage/
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