“Plundering of the past for the purposes of private enrichment.”
“The Planning White Paper mentions heritage in passing, but with little focus.”
A fortnight ago, an iconic piece of British heritage was allowed to become a hotel:
Following which, an inquiry was initiated into the whole process:
As covered on these pages:
A lot of people were very angry at the failure of Historic England to do more:
The Whitechapel Bell Foundry will be turned into a hotel. Four and a half centuries of bell-making in Whitechapel have gone to pot and another bit of British history will be turned into an ersatz coffee bar – what Historic England, in its wisdom, and with its responsibility for the preservation of the historic fabric of England, calls ‘adaptive re-use’ – a totally weaselly term, which allows its commissioners to celebrate the plundering of the past for the purposes of private enrichment.
Since the decision, it just so happens that Historic England has published advice on how owners of listed buildings can apply for consent to work on their property:
There wasn’t a breach of any rules around the Grade II Listed Whitechapel Foundry – it’s just that a junior minister waved the application though:
However, a private member’s bill is making its way through parliament to try and reduce breaches of planning regulations:
Despite this specific attempt on the legislative margins to provide more assurances to the planning system, and despite the Secretary of State initiating a review into the specifics of planning and heritage, there are fears around the government’s proposals to fundamentally reshape planning:
This is from a report from the House of Commons Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, published just over a month ago:
The future of the planning system in England
Urban Vision Enterprise declared that “The Planning White Paper mentions heritage in passing, but with little focus.” It was similarly noted there had been no question on heritage protection in the consultation.
Claire Dutch told us: “The White Paper does not deal with heritage in any great respect … We have an adequate framework for protection of historic assets in this country. It works, it does the job and we do not need to tinker with it.”
These comments echoed a widely felt wish for clarity about the impact on historical and environmental protections in ‘growth’, ‘renewal’, and ‘protected’ areas, for example for listed buildings, existing conservation areas, and green spaces.
The Bartlett School of Planning at UCL argued that: “It is hard to see how well a listed building could be protected in relation to development proposals for immediately adjoining buildings in a ‘growth’ or ‘renewal’ area under the government’s proposals.”
Hackney Council, among others, also emphasised the importance of continuing to let local authorities play a crucial role in listing buildings or designating Conservation Areas…
And it’s not just MPs who are concerned – as with threats to Liverpool’s historic docks:
The decision to remove Liverpool’s status is set to be made following “repeated requests” from UNESCO to the local and national government to protect the site.
“The committee has considered several times the possibility of deletion of the property from the World Heritage List owing to the clear deterioration and irreversible loss of attributes conveying the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property including its authenticity and integrity, arising from the ‘Liverpool Waters’ development.”