Thursday, 30 April 2009

Renewable Heritage: Microgeneration in Historic Homes

The Republic computer is still out of action, and a borrowed laptop is proving adequate but not without its problems.

So a rapid blog without visuals to draw attention to the conference in Edinburgh, World Heritage Site, at the Hub, May 15th.

Last year's was hugely informative, and all will be welcome, professional or householder, interested in traditional and historic homes, energy conservation and renewable energy.

Renewable Heritage Conference Microgeneration in Traditional and Historic Homes The Hub, Castlehill, Edinburgh Friday 15 May 2009

...Read more

The cost is minimal!

To reserve a place contact Changeworks on 0131 538 7957

The day will include presentations covering a range of areas including:• Renewable energy – Microgeneration systems in historic homes • Building conservation – Historic homes in a changing climate • Technical Issues – Old buildings & microgeneration technologies • Planning – Requirements & consents • Environment – Climate change, sustainability and historic buildings • Case studies – microgeneration installations in traditional and historic homes, including Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site

Following on from the success of last year’s Energy Heritage conference, the day will cover the key issues surrounding microgeneration in historic homes, and demonstrate how they can benefit from free, clean, renewable energy while retaining their historic integrity. A series of case studies will be presented, including a detailed presentation of a groundbreaking solar installation in listed tenements in Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site. These case studies will provide practical examples of how to install microgeneration systems in older and historic homes.

Who should attend? This conference is relevant to professionals involved in historic buildings, conservation, planning, architecture, housing, the environment, sustainable development, local or national government, renewable energy, building maintenance and fuel poverty, as well as householders and community groups.

This is a Changeworks event, funded by eaga Charitable Trust and Edinburgh World Heritage

Programme of the conference here:

see also:


Tuesday, 28 April 2009

The Milk Train 1930

As opposed to the developers' gravy train, 2009.

A short piece of nostalgia!

See also

This is the Manifold Valley, Derbyshire, and this is a journey of the milk train. Note the complete absence of refrigeration.

A Pathe Pictorial (for those who recall the glory days of cinema...) silent, so make your own chuffing noises.

The Republic computer is off to be fixed today (hopefully); back soon as possible.


Heritage Forum:

Monday, 27 April 2009

Too Lidl too late?

The now bulldozed Auld Fowler's HQ - click to enlarge

The Republic computer is throwing a hissy fit. While I'm still able to use it before it goes in for repair, it's in short bursts, so here's a briefish blog for today.

As mentioned in the Independent Republic of the Canongate blog at the weekend,

'Not worth keeping' says Historic Scotland'.

'Historic Scotland tell me what to say, and I'm not disagreeing' says The Minister.

For more history of the campaign to save the building, and further pictures:

'We can issue demolition authority as we please' says East Lothian Council Building Control. And we can ignore what the community in Prestonpans thinks.'We're elected to run their town for them. We might say in our political manifesto that we are going to listen to local communities but in practice that certainly doesn't mean we'll take their unanimous views on board. 'We should not stand in the way if Lidl seeks to maximise the profit from the lands they bought from Coeval in The Pans. The fact they said they would retain the Auld Fowler's HQ when we agreed to their present glass store on the site doesn't mean we hold them to their word.'

Historic Scotland may not have decided that it was worth listing, although many disagree, but surely a handsome building, with interesting and high-quality fixtures and fittings, as can be seen in the picture gallery via the link above, a building cherished by the local community, and now simply bulldozed, in order that these can be built:

What price sustainability, eh Lidl?

Who enjoyed the English Heritage programme on Friday?

Although it pains me to say it, as it could have been a great opportunity, and sad though possibly unsurprising that Dr Thurley came over as a tad too precious, which will simply confirm to yer average viewer that conservation is the preserve of an effete elite (when the Restoration Revisited this week showed it certainly isn't), you have to wonder why he allowed the entire thing in the first place. It was always destined to be a hatchet job, if past docusoaps of this type are anything to judge from.

Apethorpe was portrayed as a Dr T vanity project; the reality is that we have laws and planning policies in this country which are too often not put into operation, and here was a long-standing problem, a house of exceptional quality left neglected and seriously at risk. Repair orders were ignored, and the inexorable march of the long arm of the law meant that in the end the DCMS had no option other than to step in and take it into state ownership.

It was never going to be an easy one, as there is little land, a far from grand access, not really in the most desirable location, and it still requires a vast pot of cash spending on it.

The recent history is a difficult one, but really, a house of this importance did not need to be kept in any sort of institutional use, converted into flats, have 'enabling development' encroaching on it, and I have no problem with what has, in the end, happened.

(Take some of that with a pinch of salt...)

The inspector concluded that none of the developer's proposals would safeguard the hall and the order was confirmed.

If the place has to be mothballed until the right buyer is found, considering the current economic climate, then OK, although I understand it is rumoured that there are a couple of seriously interested buyers in the offing. It may be that the buyer will also want to repay the grant aid spent, but if not, the public will have access for 28 days a year, and a piece of history has been retained, beautifully repaired (with more to do I accept) rather than being the target for yet another 'mystery fire'.

For Apethorpe the movie see here:

Summer 2009 tours, and a great deal more info from English Heritage:

So in this humble opinion, the slighting comments about the insistence of using the correct local Collyweston roofing stone, and making it sound as though using lime plaster and wooden floats conservation barminess, were just cheap shots to make the average TV viewer sneer at the 'waste' of public cash. Is this country's leading heritage organisation supposed to have used concrete tiles and Polyfilla? What's wrong with the correct materials and fine craftsmanship? Or should the Lidl approach - pile 'em high sell 'em cheap and to hell with heritage - be what is required in the new soulless Britain of the 21st century?

Memory Lane 1971 for Auld Fowler's HQ
Those were the days . Auld Fowler's HQ looking every bit the part in 1971 - photograph thanks to Sinclair Macleod, whose family were the last owners of The Scottish Salt Company producing Prestonpans Salt. Handsome looking brewery buildings too. Wonder why all our history was demolished? No sign of Lidl's fine new store.

You do wonder though:


All the excitement is about the double-cross proposed from Lidl and Taylor Wimpey's G2 way back in 2007. They applied then for Planning Consent to East Lothian Council to knock down the Auld Fowler's HQ and build 50+ low cost flats. That's the same Auld Fowler's Building as they successfully argued was an integral design element when they applied for permission to build their new glass supermarket next door - which is incidentally a very fine store inside.

Their proposal to demolish led to:

1. An application by the Arts Festival for Listing which Historic Scotland [HS] rejected on very unsafe grounds indeed, point blank refusing to consider historical significance despite the requirements of the Act;

2. That rejection led to a Petition at Holyrood to reform the way Historic Scotland works, which is still ongoing;

3. Requests to the Scottish Information Commissioner [one upheld and the second ongoing] on how Historic Scotland works when it advises Ministers;

4. An application by 800 signatories [10% of the town's population] for Community Right to Buy the property.N.B. The full story so far is documented @ the Arts Festival website linked here


Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Heritage Counts?

Today's blog title is nicked from the English Heritage annual surveys of the same name. The 2008 one can be found here:

As it says on the tin:

Heritage Counts is an annual survey of the state of England’s historic environment. It looks at principle changes in the historic environment. This year there is also a focus on Climate Change and the part the historic sector is playing in tackling this very important issue. More information on the Heritage Counts series

However, at times I have heard some shorten the title a little when describing English Heritage. Lost vowels can have quite an effect. I do wonder just how much heritage actually counts at government level. Although the current economic climate has meant several building schemes which would be destructive of the 'historic environment' have been shelved, at least for the short term, many more will still be pushing ahead, such as the ghastly Pathfinder related demolitions of so many homes (see

The demise of the Civic Trust, reported in the blog on Monday, and also featuring in today's Building Design:

Two former RIBA presidents are among those expressing sadness over the demise of the Civic Trust, which went into administration today after more than 50 years of campaigning to improve the quality of the built environment.

George Ferguson and Paul Hyett both spoke of their regret after the trust folded due to lack of funds, with Hyett calling it a “great tragedy”...

is a sad symptom of the current collapse of financial security. It's difficult to know what the ramifications of that will be for the regional civic trusts. I wrote and posted a web album too of Gayle Mill on Monday, one of the buildings featured in this evening's Restoration Revisited, presented by Griff Rhys Jones.

Set The Video: Restoration Revisited, BBC Two, Wednesday, 22 April, 9pm

One thing Britain is really good at is Old Stuff. That's why all Americans think we live in Gothic caves filled with antiques and maps made from human skin. Of course, they're completely correct. The Swedish however, think we're all sexually backward. Of course, they're correct too. Mercifully, it's the former we're focusing on here as we're treated to Restoration Revisited (BBC Two, Wednesday, 22 April, 9pm) which will see Griff Rhys Jones going back to Old Stuff and seeing if it looks like New Old Stuff.

Over three series, the Restoration team became the architectural equivalent of The Campaign For Real Ale, celebrating the old way of doing things... shouting from the rooftops about how great some British buildings are and how we should give them a cuddle and a spit-wash.
Through the television and phone votes (pre-scandal), Griff Rhys Jones helped us all decide which buildings got restored to former glories, which knackered old gems should be revived and breathed back to life. Everyone cheered as the fireworks went off at the close of each series... however... what happened next?

Well, this show will tell us that loads has happened, with a staggering £100 million being raised for 72 buildings. As swell as that is, it's the transformations that we'll be shown which will be the real pay-off. Should be very nice and pleasant viewing.

Gayle Mill was one of those, which benefited from the cash and the publicity, and I urge all to visit - an unsanitised and tea shoppe free zone, aspiring to be a working sawmill using some rather wonderful old machinery, and with a room for community use thrown in (although it's only a very short walk from Hawes and indeed only a short stroll from the Wensleydale cheese factory and visitor centre,

with a decent caff for those in need of a cuppa after all that culcha oop at t'mill).

Gayle Mill's 'restoration' (or repair if you are a SPABie) was masterminded by Graham Bell and team at the North of England Civic Trust, which owns the building. From the NECT website it sounds as though that organisation at least is safe for now:$FILE/eng-woodfuel-yandh-gayle-mill-cs.pdf

Indeed, here it is again - Heritage Counts 2006, with a picture giving a flavour of the fine interior to be enjoyed, and no gifte shoppe flogging Yorkshire pot pourri in sight either (although some suspiciously clean overalls):

So the failure to thrive of the Civic Trust (President: Griff Rhys Jones) may not immediately bring national shock waves, but the withdrawal of its valuable work (such as the annual Civic Trust Awards and National Heritage Open Days) and expertise will be a sad loss to all who value the built environment.

About Us

The Civic Trust is the independent nationwide charity dedicated to helping communities make better places in which to live, work and play. The Civic Trust has campaigned for better places for people since 1957, and continues to be a powerful, definitive and distinctive voice which helps communities to imagine, shape and deliver inspiring places and an enduring future. The Civic Trust is the umbrella organisation for 700 Civic Societies across the country, representing a quarter of a million people, who care passionately about their environment. Each year it organises Heritage Open Days where over a million people celebrate and explore their cultural and architectural heritage during a long weekend in September.
Through its activities, the Civic Trust raises the standard of our parks, towns and cities. The
Civic Trust’s Award schemes reward the best in our environment, and develop and define best practice. Education, consultancy and coaching programmes help others to understand and achieve excellence in designing, creating and campaigning for better places.

The 2009 Civic Trust Award winners can be found here:

Heritage Open Days 2009:

The picture at the top of today's blog is of another bit of Britain's heritage, indeed it's part of Edinburgh's Royal Mile in the Old and New Town World Heritage Site.

The Director of Edinburgh World Heritage seems to have managed to leave behind the current woes of Caltongate and the Haymarket Tower and hotfooted it to Penang and the World Heritage Site of Georgetown earlier this month.

When Secretary of SAVE Britain's Heritage, Adam was hardly shy of publicity for the cause. Indeed he made a guest appearance in SALON again this week (along with a certain Conservation Officer and blog, which I thankfully note has resumed in fine style):

and mention of Paddington Span Four brings me to a previous blog in which he features:

Here he is again then, meeja tarting for Britain halfway around the world, in a newspaper interview published for World Heritage Day (last Friday, in case it had passed you by) with useful things to say about his aspirations for Edinburgh (inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1995 and giving sound advice to those experiencing teething troubles with managing Georgetown WHS (inscribed 2008

Penang Heritage Trust:

For those not lucky enough to be invited to see the World Heritage Sites of Melaka and Georgetown for themselves, these two videos give a flavour of what you are missing:

Meanwhile back home, sad news from the Save Dreamland Campaign that what remained of the historic River Caves at Pleasureland, Southport went up in flames last night:

As one of those heavily involved in the attempt to save Pleasureland from the bulldozer it's particularly poignant; a listing attempt was thwarted by what can only be described as cock ups by those supposedly in charge of our heritage. Heritage counts indeed.

River Caves, with their fantastical voyages through tableaux of scenes round the world, were a form of education and entertainment for the masses, in the days when flying halfway round the world to visit in person would only ever be a dream. Thankfully, some of the parts from Pleasureland were rescued by Nick Laister and the Save Dreamland team, and hopefully and, yes, we are back to that ever diminishing pot of lottery funding again, a new/old River Caves will arise again at Dreamland, Margate. For more of those plans, and news updated yesterday evening, and the proposed Heritage Amusement Park:

There's even a Youtube video, featuring amongs other joys the River Caves and the Waterchute rescued from Rhyl, another mad last minute escapade, funded by those for whom heritage really does count - ie members of the Save Dreamland Campaign (donations always welcome!).

For more heritage news, including posts on the worrying threat to the Leas Lift at Folkestone, as first reported on the Victorian Society website, do join and join in on the Heritage Forum:


PS Fame or notoriety?

(Water Mill:

Monday, 20 April 2009

Conservation Officer, where art thou?

OK, possibly up to your ears in work, but the Editor of SALON, the newsletter of the Society of Antiquaries no less, is wondering what has happened to you.

Mr Catling says:

And so say all of us!

No more excuses, sober up, shape up, and get writing!


Civic Trust folds!

Gayle Mill (click to enlarge)

A quick blog about the shocking news that the Civic Trust has folded, another victim of the financial problems so many are facing:

As reported in the AJ today:

Shock as Civic Trust folds
20 April, 2009 By Richard Waite

The Civic Trust has become the latest victim of the credit crunch after plunging into administration

The 52-year-old charity, which acted as the umbrella group for more than 750 Civic Societies across England, was best known for its annual Civic Trust Awards, its campaigning to ‘create better, people-friendly places’ and supporting the preservation of local heritage sites.

It is understood the ‘squeeze on local authority spending’ finally spelled the end for the Trust which, sources claim, had been in difficulties ‘for some time’.

Heritage Link, which represents 78 voluntary heritage organisations across the country, said the Trust’s demise had sent shockwaves through the sector.

A spokeswoman said: ‘The Trust captured the mood of the nation when quality of life [when it was founded in 1957], improving and caring for places where people live and work [and] won political and popular support.

‘[It] made a significant contribution to policy work and in sharing best practice on planning and heritage matters including heritage protection reform.

‘That special perspective will be sorely missed.’
Will Palin from SAVE Britain’s Heritage agreed that the ‘news was a real shock’.

The collapse of the Trust, which boasts Griff Rhys Jones as its president, emerged on Friday (17 April).

Talking to the BBC, Civic Trust chairman Philip Kolvin blamed the lack of local authority funding and added: ‘I still passionately believe in the civic movement, but it now needs grassroots members of vision and energy to start afresh with a new organisation, working within its means and building gradually from the bottom.’

This year’s Civic Trust Awards - which could now be the last – heaped accolades on more than a 100 buildings which it regarded as making an ‘outstanding contribution’ to the built environment.

These included Rogers Stirk Harbour’s Maggie’s Centre at Charing Cross Hospital, Hammersmith and Gareth Hoskins’ Culloden battlefield visitor centre in Inverness.

Griff Rees Jones will be presenting a programme on Wednesday evening TV Restoration Revisited:

Restoration had a huge impact on how the nation thought about its deteriorating historic buildings. Over three series, Griff Rhys Jones introduced 72 architectural treasures. From crumbling castles to jewels of the industrial age, all with compelling cases, all in danger of being lost and all needing help. Viewers were invited to vote for the buildings they wanted to save.

In this one-hour special, Griff revisits some of the buildings and the campaigners who captured the nation's heart, discovering what has happened since. What will the future hold?

What indeed, when organisations like the Civic Trust go under, and Heritage Lottery funding has been slashed in order to pay for the Olympics.

I have a number of photos I took of Gayle Mill, Yorkshire, in 2008, pictured on the BBC site link with Griff Rhys Jones in front. A fascinating place, a worthy past Restoration contender, and lottery cash made its rescue possible. Here's a web album of shots:

Gayle Mill 2008

Here's the official website, with a great deal of info:

Friends of Gayle Mill, with more photos:


Heritage Forum:

All are welcome to post any news, views, questions, have a natter about related issues, etc. Registration quick and simple.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Spurred on

Spurs Stadium: SAVE alternative, Huw Thomas Architects

From Building Design

Heritage outcry over Make’s Spurs stadium

Heritage groups have slammed plans to demolish a set of historic buildings on the site of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club’s new north London stadium, following the unveiling of designs by Make Architects, KSS Group and Martha Schwartz Partners last week.

Save Britain’s Heritage — which this week revealed its own vision for the site by Huw Thomas Architects — described the removal of up to 15 historic buildings, including two grade II listed properties, as “pretty grim”.

Secretary William Palin said: “It is an insult to Tottenham that [Tottenham Hotspur FC] hasn’t bothered to produce anything that relates to the surrounding area.”

The Victorian Society warned that the club had yet to justify the demolition under planning guidance. Conservation adviser Heloise Brown said: “The club’s aim to build a new stadium… and create open spaces can be achieved without knocking down these buildings.”
The scheme includes a 58,000-seat stadium, hotel and 450 homes.

For more see:

Previous post on this:

A 'good news' report this week on the listings front is that the Minister has listed a school and a railway station, both twentieth century, which is unusual and hopefully signals a more sensible listing regime for post-1900 buildings:

Architecture minister Follett lists two 20th Century buildings

Barbara Follett lists school and railway station at Grade II.

Pics and report:

It seems English Heritage is at last starting to wake up to the need to protect World Heritage Sites from unsuitable development (too late for Liverpool):

English Heritage (EH) has publicly attacked Allies and Morrison’s proposed high-rise Elizabeth House scheme in central London

EH claims the three-tower development next to Waterloo Station would cause ‘significant harm’ to the Westminster World Heritage site.

A public inquiry into the £1 billion development for P&O on London’s South Bank, which features two office blocks and a residential skyscraper (22, 27 and 39 storeys respectively), kicks off later today (15 April 2009).

According to a statement released to the AJ, EH is expected to tell the planning inspector the proposals, known as the Three Sisters scheme, could ruin the setting of the Palace of Westminster as well as harming views of some of London’s most architecturally and historically significant buildings.

The landmarks threatened, claims EH, include the recently refurbished Grade I-listed Royal Festival Hall the Grade-II* listed County Hall and the Royal National Theatre.

An EH spokesperson said: ‘There is no reason why regeneration need come at the expense of the historic environment of London.

‘English Heritage supports the redevelopment of this site and is not opposed to the inclusion of tall buildings as part of that redevelopment, as long as those buildings do not unacceptably harm the setting of key heritage assets.’


Nice comment under that that:

"The planned development is a giant cuckoo in an already overcrowded and unappealing nest. But why make it worse? English Heritage is right. Graham Morrison - you should be ashamed of yourself. You used to care - now you're just taking the money. Richard Lucraft"

Sadly, in Edinburgh, moves are afoot (!) to move important modern sculptures by Paolozzi from the heart of the WHS, according to the Scotsman today:

Giant sculpture could hotfoot it to new home in city

THE giant foot created by celebrated Scots sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi has had pride of place outside a cathedral in Edinburgh for almost 20 years. But now it is at the centre of a wrangle over whether it should become a new landmark in Paolozzi's native Leith.

Supporters want to see it moved to become the start of a new sculpture trail through the port, which would also feature the other two works of art which sit alongside the "Big Foot" outside St Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral, in Picardy Place.

The fate of the sculptures are uncertain as their current home is earmarked for a major new hotel development once the area has been overhauled to accommodate the city's trams.The Greener Leith campaign wants the city council, which is responsible for their upkeep, to hand the sculptures over, but the move is being resisted by the authority.

Actually the sculptures aren't at much risk where they are as there will still be public space. So why not commission something new for the start of the sculpture trail?

There are pictures on the Edinphoto website here:

And thanks to a friend in Embra I have today been pointed in the direction of another excellent photo website:

News that it's going to be Pass the Sickbag time on Friday evenings it seems:

Starting next Friday (24 April), BBC2 9pm. English Heritage.

Documentary series taking a look behind the scenes of the organisation that preserves historic architecture, as Chief Executive Simon Thurley oversees the task of looking after the country's listed buildings.

(That's Thurley, who for his 40th birthday party in 2004 apparently dressed as Charles II...)

Well, sometimes it preserves historic architecture. Will we have a right of reply, showing its many failures also?

It sounds worth watching though:


Heritage Forum:

Sunday, 12 April 2009

If you have come to this blog via PPUKE... Happy Easter anyhow

You may wish to read this:

The betting is on now.

Blimey, there are some hypocrites around, eh?

Pic: Silly cow

I suspect the blog post you have really come to read is this one:

and you are all welcome to read and post on the Heritage Forum, which we do try to keep vaguely about heritage issues, and not just a chatroom.

Anyhow, I wish all readers a Happy Easter, hope the bunny has been kind with the eggs, I am catching up with things elsewhere at the moment so the blog will keep going but possibly not daily. RSS etc feeds (or I can add you to the mailing list) will keep anyone interested notified.
Enjoy the sunshine!


Thursday, 9 April 2009

Two heroines against Pathfinder

Edge Lane, Liverpool

UPDATED FEB 1st 2010

Elizabeth's eviction (for that's what it is) from her home:

As I said when I briefly wrote in the blog at the end of March of the sad end of Elizabeth Pascoe's heroic legal struggle against the breakup of her community, and the Compulsory Purchase Order for her home in Edge Lane, Liverpool, there would be more. Today's blog is that more.

Here's Charles Clover, whose articles in the Daily Telegraph against Pathfinder (Housing Market Renewal) for so long kept the story in the nation's eye. Sadly he is no longer there, but this week he took up the cause again and wrote of Elizabeth's story in The Spectator:
"It would be a mistake to conclude, though, that her battle against state bullying is all for nothing. It has defined an area of law in which modern Britain is little better than Zimbabwe. It used to be the case that the state could take away your home for a road, a railway or an airport because it was to the greater public good. It used to be the case, even during the clearances of the 1960s, that to succeed with a compulsory purchase order for a housing scheme it had to be proved that the properties to be demolished were unsound.
What the Edge Lane case has shown is that compulsory purchase orders can be used under the present law to do whatever public officials want to do with them. The state can now take away your home just because the ones next door are scruffy and because a site needs to be created for Bellway Homes to have a sufficient profit margin, as in this case..."
Read on:

Elizabeth is one of the network of fighters collectively known as Hutties, pulled together and kept informed by another doughty campaigner, Sylvia Wilson, of Homes Under Threat.

Immediately after the court decision, the following was received by all 'Hutties' in the early hours from Sylvia and Elizabeth by e-mail. As it's elsewhere on the net I post the link, rather than re-post it all here, but I have to say I read it with deep emotion, having spoken to Elizabeth not long before in Liverpool, at the opening of the SAVE Liverpool exhibition, when we still had hope.

25th March 2009
"As I see it the battle is like housework. We don't ever `get anywhere' but my goodness it is so much worse if we don't try. I gave it my best shot." Elizabeth Pascoe

Yesterday Elizabeth Pascoe, who has been fighting to save her home in Edge Lane, Liverpool, for four years, finally lost her case in court after initially staving off demolition. Here we print two e-mails. The first is from Sylvia Wilson of Homes Under Threat (HUT) and the second is a reaction from Elizabeth herself.

Later, when the initial shock was over, Sylvia nd Elizabeth sent out another e-mail to all Hutties, and they have both kindly given me permission to repeat the messages here.
A message from Sylvia:
Fellow Hutties,

After the founding of HUT almost 6 years ago and of being attached (it seems at times, by umbilical cord) to my computer and phone to help all Hutties the best way I know how, I have to send my thanks to you all for sticking with it for so long, and continuing your battles and refusing to give in... as in the case of Elizabeth Pascoe.

We have spent many years together fighting "almost" the same cause, whilst the principle is the same, each case is different, you are all battling a cause, whether to save your homes, your livelihoods, the environment, your history and heritage even a village green, that are targeted to be re-built on, a few of you have sat quietly in the background supporting us, offering practical help and cheering us on! To you all, Thank You!

In the beginning, we seemed to be on a winning streak, until the Councils and Government realised what was happening and took a different tack to using CPO's, their idea was to wait us out and "Voluntarily Acquire" our property, but even that didn't work well or fast enough for them, so trying to box us in, they have now altered the Planning Laws that were set in place to protect us... they may think they have us all by the short hairs... but I have such faith in you all, that we will find a way around this pathetic maneuver together!In this recent Economic Crisis, we now have the chance to put extra pressure on the Councils and Government to stop Demolition and New Build, and go for the Refurbishment of homes and properties, (that Ms Beckett publicised the other week) this needs to be reinforced by you in your areas to your Councils! Letters to them with the emphasis on the Economic Crisis, cease further demolition, building only on the areas that have already been cleared (of which there are many and lying fallow) global warming, and the inert energy in extant buildings, which only need refurbishment to get them back on the market and free-up dwellings for the hundreds of thousands of folk without a home!

As for your own battles, keep going, don't give up and don't give in!!!


Elizabeth has said she is happy for me to make this statement from her public on the Republic blog. She cannot afford to battle on any longer, financially and emotionally it has all been a terrible strain.

Dearest Hutties,
I have so very much needed your support this last 4 years, in that without knowing of the hundreds of others, and probably tens of thousands, I would have succumbed to the view that it was selfish / insane for me to fight for my home and community.
Thanks for leaving me in peace to grieve this last few days. Sylvia has passed on the messages just to let me know people are thinking of me, and understand.
Over this period of time I have "grown up" a great deal, in that it has become painfully apparent that government is clueless, even before this financial melt down. So, I have learned to trust my own judgement, have respect for my own gut reactions, stop doing as I used to do about various problems "intellectualise" them. This really hurts, besides being very wrong.
I am extremely frightened about the future, least of all in financial terms, far more in social and environmental terms, as all these accumulated "mistakes" coalesce. All this hype about "increased aspirations" and the people of the planet (or at least in the "developed" world) sold into commercialism and consumerism, of which housing market renewal is a typical manifestation. I hope it isn't irrevocable, as we see younger generations have such a different mind-set to ours.
Most of you are my age, and we have the vestiges of the make-do-and-mend capability and the "old-fashioned" idea of living within one's means, which had its own rewards. Times are going to get extremely tough, and as we are all aware that government not only doesn't know what it is doing, it is digging a pit of debt for future generations to come. It is needlessly uprooting citizens it is supposed to serve, in the name of wider public interest! They are tearing to shreds the lives of well integrated naturally occurring peoples that have survived the tough times and created our communities in the first place. This appetite for "throw away" and replace with new-build is detrimental to the very life-support systems of the planet!
I think it is up to us, as a moral obligation to the future, to let them know in no uncertain terms what fools they are, about a great deal more than HMR. I have tried "ladylike" and "the proper channels". It didn't work, despite the insight and sympathy of the judge.
I don't know what I am going to do next. I am completely certain that the judge who had to decide against me fully grasped what was going on, but there was no remedy in law once the CABE view of the proponent scheme took a 180 degree turn-around at a date too late for me to put in other grounds (and we weren't granted an adjournment to be able to do that).
The law isn't infallible, even though in the good old days its creation was as a device to protect us. "Unfortunately" this current government has created even more draconian legislation, just last December to be even more destructive in the name of "progress", which gives citizens even less chance or even the opportunity to voice never mind challenge their "big ideas" (that the nation can't financially afford and the planet can't afford in essential terms).

We have come together under Hutties for a reason which is now apparently just the tip of the iceberg. I think we need as a nation that has been lucky enough to have been subject to fairly reasonable governance in the past to now "wake up" and start being less passive, for the desperate sake of future generations. As the saying goes "The price of freedom is constant vigilance". And of course "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing".
I have established beyond all reasonable doubt that the systems developed to support us are now being used against us, and that even the judiciary, whose sympathy I have, are unable to rectify the situation.
As I said, I don't know what to do next. I do begin to have sympathy with the idea of drastic measures and possibly a "civilised" version of that will be to attend the demonstrations in London April 1st. I have been too busy for 4 years to be involved in anything much at all. We certainly need to stand up and be counted, and not "merely" rely on the systems created by government through which we are supposed to be heard. As far as I can see it, no matter how well one manages to present oneself, allowing that we didn't have a legal team, the effort may seem futile, maybe direct action would work better, risky as that is (because of all the nutters that jump on the bandwagon, AND that government is creating laws to prevent us from doing that).
Of course we all have problems and can't all find the time and other resources to fight as I (who doesn't have a job or family around me) did. But we, who know what harm is being done, as it is to us, are obliged to fight back some how or other, to make sure that we get heard. We can't allow all these "mistakes" to keep on rolling out.
Maybe so far we have been "too nice". Maybe I will cease to be nice, I just don't know. Some say I have been "dignified". Maybe I'll change. Having taken my home and half my income and taken up 4 years of my life, and totally scuppered my chances of a doctorate in the greening aspects of urban regeneration I had worked towards for years before that, what have I to lose?
It is early days for me, free of this particular battle. I can't advise or even think yet how to make evident my feelings. Yes I am very sad, and yes I am very afraid, not just for my future (how I will now end my days / where I will live after generations of owner occupier mentality) but for the whole world if this sort of governance is the best there is. Mainly and overwhelmingly I am angry and wonder whether I will stay sane, or, maybe I'll decide to try "insane" for a change. I am not yet ready to give in to despair.

So "Carry on fighting" is all I can say, in your own way with your own particular battle. Most of you are not up against such an intricate mesh of quangos as I was, for such a series of supposed "benefits" (road widening to take more faster traffic into the city centre, and such like, not just housing). In the end 15 acronyms had their logos across the bottom of proponent documents.
It will add greatly to the burden on my back if any of you "fold". I didn't, and even now in defeat I haven't given in. Again I thank you for that, knowing that I am right, as not just me thinks as I do, it was 70 witnesses, some of them representing 13 different universities, and in essence representing all of you. But for now I am too close to this week's events to decide "What next".
The very best of luck, everyone, and hold in your hearts "WE ARE RIGHT!". Have no self doubts, our case is proven by events. I very much wish I believed in hell so that they might all be punished for creating hell on earth. Unless we try our utmost, the worst is yet to come!


For more on Pathfinder, still available is former Secretary Adam Wilkinson's damning study for SAVE, see publications:

I'm not often lost for words Elizabeth, but I really can't find the right ones to express my sorrow and anger at what this country has descended to, with the wickedness of 'Housing Market Renewal'. Keep the faith.

More news:


Thursday, 2 April 2009


I have just received this from a fellow Citizen of the Republic, I feel it needs a wider audience:

Planning for Domestic Pets

Conservation Areas - too little, too late?

English Heritage has launched a campaign about Conservation Areas.

It's too late just to announce a survey, English Heritage – launch a cull.

Simon Thurley, English Heritage's chief executive, mused...

"Are sash windows still gracing house-fronts or are conservation areas suffering from a plague of plastic ones? Are front gardens being lost to car parking? Are the hearts of our most historic towns and suburban high streets under threat from the wrong kind of change?"

Sorry Dr T, it's all too little too late in my opinion, and certainly I have already joined up and joined in with news of what's happened to diminish the attractiveness of my local Conservation Area, including the spoiling of listed buildings.

A start would have been for you to press really, really hard for the overturning of the Shimizu judgment of course. It has been used by many a developer and local authority, seemingly unable to read the details thoroughly, to allow all manner of destruction short of total demolition.

Not that total demolition seems to be much of a problem with historic buildings in Conservation Areas in my neck of the woods, either, just claim 'community need', pay a surveyor/ 'historic buildings consultant' to say the building is rubbish, and there you go.

Or claim that a housing development which will ruin the green setting is needed as some will be 'affordable' and permission pings back with little fuss.

First National Survey of Conservation Areas at Risk

England has some 9,300 Conservation Areas, historic parts of cities, towns, suburbs and villages designated by local authorities to protect their special character. But what condition are they in? Are they cherished through a close partnership of council and residents? Or are they at risk from neglect, decay and inappropriate development?

Conservation Areas vary enormously. They include, for example, the Belgravia Conservation Area in central London, the industrial heritage of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, the fishing village of Clovelly in North Devon and the Victorian People’s Park Conservation Area in Halifax. The heart of a historic town might be a Conservation Area. So too might be a street of well-preserved 1930s semi-detached houses or an isolated group of farm buildings. Details of local Conservation Areas are held by councils and can usually be found on their websites.

English Heritage has asked every Local Authority in the country to fill in a questionnaire for each of their Conservation Areas as part of the first nationwide census of the condition of this important element of our heritage. The results will be announced and a campaign will be launched on 23rd June to help councils, communities and individual residents to care for these special places.

Conservation Areas identified as at risk will be added to the Heritage at Risk register, published annually by English Heritage. Each year new categories are added to the register in an attempt to create a Domesday Book of every aspect of England’s threatened heritage. The register helps everyone to prioritise action, direct resources to areas of need and focus attention on saving the best of the past for the future. Eventually it will make England the first country in the world to have a comprehensive picture of its heritage at risk and the necessary understanding to save it.

Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: “Conservation Areas play a vital role in protecting the most important historic places in England from ill-considered change. Designated by local authorities after widespread local consultation, millions of us live in or near one, go to work or shop in one or visit them for leisure. Thanks to help from hundreds of Local Authority Conservation Officers all over the country, this survey will give us a true picture of the condition of these important, historic places.

“Are sash windows still gracing house-fronts or are Conservation Areas suffering from a plague of plastic ones? Are front gardens being lost to car parking? Are the hearts of our most historic towns and suburban high streets under threat from the wrong kind of change? Does the existence of an active local amenity society make a difference?

“We will be analysing the results carefully so that we can help to provide answers to questions like these and propose solutions where Conservation Areas are in decline. This is a strategic, national campaign and English Heritage won’t be able to get involved in individual issues at a local level. However, we will be providing residents and local groups with information and advice and explaining how they can help by working constructively with local authorities to manage the places they value most. There is a lot that residents can do themselves and we will support Conservation Officers in their tireless work to halt decay and inappropriate change before it is too late.”

Are you a member of a local amenity society or residents’ group?

Many Conservation Areas have local amenity societies or residents’ groups which perform a valuable role in protecting the special character of the place where they live for everyone’s benefit. English Heritage is keen to hear from as many local groups as possible so that they can keep them informed of the Conservation Areas at Risk campaign.
They also want to hear about major successes and might feature your local amenity society in their campaign booklet and on their website. To receive information and get involved in the campaign, please visit

Conservation Areas at Risk

English Heritage’s new campaign will reveal how many of England’s 9,300 Conservation Areas are at risk and from what. We have asked every Local Authority in the country to fill in a questionnaire on the condition of their Conservation Areas and will be publishing the results in our Heritage at Risk Register on 23rd June.

Get involved!

If you are worried about a proliferation of plastic windows, over-sized extensions or buildings being left derelict or even demolished, sign up below. We will keep you informed of the campaign and in June we'll send you a campaign pack providing lots of information on how residents and councils can work together to save these special historic places for the benefit of the whole community.

Designated by local authorities to protect their special character, Conservation Areas can be historic parts of cities, towns, suburbs and villages. The heart of market town might be a Conservation Area, so too might be a street of well-preserved 1930s semi-detached houses or an isolated group of farm buildings.
Register Now
Are there local success stories or challenges you would like to tell us about?Unfortunately, we cannot get involved in every local issue but the information you provide will give us a better picture of how things really are across the country and help us raise the profile of Conservation Areas on local and national government agenda.

Well, that would be good, but I think the horse vanished from the stable long ago, and the bolt shoved firmly in place; a vast pot of cash would be useful to try to persuade people that removal of unsightly plastic doors and windows would help Conservation Areas hugely, but many would resist and the results would be patchy.

I recall Caius Plinius telling us of a problem in his patch in his blog not so long ago. I would say that is not untypical.

Here's my previous post, Trash the Plastic:

And how about this one, Dr T? Haltwhistle War Memorial Hospital. Major historic building in a Conservation Area, it's on the SAVE Britain's Heritage Buildings at Risk Register:

as Northumbria NHS Trust is ignoring national planning policy and pushing ahead with plans to demolish it, it can't be retained and re-used as, apparently, the windows are draughty.

Well, no problem - just uPVC them like everyone else does!


Discuss this and anything else at the


Do join up (easy to do) and join in - news, views, general natter.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Shame on you, Bolton Council!

The latest sad news on Clarence Street School, Bolton, courtesy of SAVE Britain's Heritage

Demolition approved for Clarence Street School

On 30 March the planning committee of Bolton Council voted unanimously to demolish the former Clarence Street Community College.

The fate of this handsome (but sadly unlisted) council-owned 1880s Board School, designed by the prominent local architect Jonathan Simpson, became a national story when SAVE successfully issued an injunction to halt demolition work in October last year. The council had started demolition work after unlawfully granting itself consent under delegated powers. This came just months after the same council had produced a report which praised the building – identifying it as a key local landmark ‘worthy of retention’. The building was to be replaced by a temporary car park.

Since halting demolition and quashing the planning consent, SAVE has been looking at ways to encourage the council to retain and refurbish the building – soliciting advice and support from the Churches Conservation Trust and the Princes Regeneration Trust. SAVE was also able to correct inflated figures given in a council report which stated the cost of scaffolding the building at £350,000. Following a visit from SAVE’s specialist contractor this figure was revised to £80,000.

However, this was not enough to sway the council which seemed determined to finish a bad job. In a sad reflection of how the Bolton’s elected officials value the heritage of their town, of the 60 councillors contacted by SAVE prior to the latest planning meeting, only three replied. Demolition was justified purely on economic grounds - the part-demolition of the building raising costs of repair considerably.

William Palin, Secretary of SAVE, says ‘We are deeply disappointed by this news. The council has sanctioned the destruction of a fine and important landmark building which could easily have been repaired and reused – as has been demonstrated by numerous successful Board School conversions all over the country. By using the part destruction of the building as a reason for its total demolition we believe the council has taken advantage of its own unlawful behaviour - the grossly inflated scaffolding costs providing further evidence of a dismissive attitude to historic buildings in its care. This is a short sighted decision which will deprive an already degraded area of the town of one of its best buildings.’

We reported in December 2008:
SAVE Legal Challenge Secures Reprieve For Victorian School

SAVE Britain's Heritage is delighted to announce that Clarence Street School in Bolton has been granted a reprieve after the Council conceded that its decision to demolish it for temporary car park was unlawful.

Awful. Do these peope have no care at all for history? It's unlikely anything put up in its place will be as handsome.