Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Damned if you do, damned if you don't

In fact, just damn.

Sad news yesterday from Caius Plinius about the loss of so much grant aid for conservation. As I said in the comments section of his blog: when it's boom time, conservation gets it in the neck as developers claim such ideas as 'heritage' and 'conservation' stand in the way of 'economic development' and 'regeneration'. When it's bust, there are always other things to spend the cash on.

I visited Liverpool last weekend, for the opening of the SAVE Britain's Heritage excellent exhibition (see:,DISASTER AND DECAY: The SAVE survey of Liverpool's Heritage

Frankly, rather too much 'regeneration' has been going on there and too little note taken of saving 'heritage' for my taste. What is happening adjacent to the magnificent Albert Dock defies description, the hemming in of the Three Graces with 'iconic' lumps unbelievable, I will in the near future post links and pictures. Some of the most crass development I have ever viewed is crammed into a tiny area along the waterfront in and adjacent to the World Heritage Site. However, don't miss the exhibition, if you can't make it call SAVE and order the catalogue. Now.

The pic top of me blog is of SAVE President Marcus Binney and exhibition curator for SAVE Robert Hradsky smiling through. The other above is of Will Palin, SAVE Secretary, modelling the SAVE publication, also baring his gnashers. Maybe it was the free wine wot did it, as certainly a great deal of the exhibition was tearjerking stuff.

One piece of good news from Liverpool is that at last the Lutyens crypt under 'Paddy's Wigwam' is now open to the public for the first time, although I have reservations about the architectural merit of the new addition. Judge for yourselves, see the pictures here:
Crypt pics:

I also note that the government has now published its draft strategy for saving the planet, as reported in the AJ:

"Energy-saving refurb planned for all UK homes

Green campaigners have welcomed plans to give every UK home a green refit by 2030 – but the source of funding remains undecided

The government's draft Heat and Energy Saving Strategy, released for consultation (12 February 2009), sets out a framework to bring existing houses to a level 'approaching zero carbon' by 2050.

It admits further financial support may be needed 'to encourage people to act now', but offers a series of suggestions in place of firm commitments. These include changes to the building regulations requiring energy saving measures to be fitted, and loans and grants funded by further levies on energy suppliers...

The strategy proposes fitting cavity wall and loft insulation in all suitable properties by 2015. Solid wall insulation and further energy saving measures will be added to another seven million properties by 2020, cutting household energy emissions by a third.

By 2030, all properties will have received a 'whole house' package including, where possible, the addition of renewable heat and power equipment such as biomass boilers and geothermal heating..."

So no new cash then. Oh well.

However, I ponder, how many of these measures will in a wider sense use more energy than they save? Keep it simple and suitable where period buildings are concerned, is my view. Interior cladding may well not allow the building to breathe, and no doubt the uPVC double glazing purveyors (see: are rubbing hands with yet more glee. I read a comment on a recent national newspaper site by a homeowner crowing how she had replaced a small number of small windows in a Conservation Area with double glazing to 'save the planet', at a cost of around twelve thousand pounds. The cash might have been better spent on some simple secondary glazing, or roller blinds. I wonder how many years it will take to recoup that outlay?

Here's the government blurb and the documentation:

No doubt those whose gravy train is running dry developing 'iconic' buildings and 'regenerating' historic areas will simply shift focus to 'greening the planet'. After all, as the government states, one of its aims in introducing these measures is:

"to take advantage of the economic opportunities presented by the shift to a low carbon economy in the UK and in the rest of the world, helping us during the current economic downturn and over the long term"

Read this and be afraid:

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