Protecting our historic environment

Once historic buildings are destroyed, they are lost for ever. Public opinion is rarely in favour of these developments - councils and developers trying to meet commercial and residential targets are the ones who are. I believe it would a) better serve the public if there was a predisposition towards a 'no' response, until it is established that a development is of greater value than harm, and that b) when public reviews and consultations take place, the comparative buildings used should be the oldest, most architecturally significant buildings in the vicinity. Too often, bad development is used a precedent to allow more unforgiving, unsympathetic construction. Finally, that c) communities should have a right to appeal decisions made by the councils which are meant to be representing them. 

Why the contribution is important

Our environments are important for many reasons. They are home to communities, repositories of memory, markers of history, and even aesthetic delights. One person may own a building, but its existence really belongs to the whole community - those who have danced in it, waited on its doorsteps, shopped in it, seen it as part of the furniture of a place for years. Our planning laws should be there to represent these communities, and to prevent private interests overriding public wishes. We should not damage what has been passed on to us by earlier generations without a powerful reason to do so. Tourists come to visit our beautiful country because of its historic fabric. That same historic fabric is a source of love and pride for local residents, and yet it seems that councils and developers are happy to destroy it for commercial gain and to meet government housing targets. There are not enough protections in place to prevent woeful decisions being made for the wrong reason, and without any right of community appeal.

by sallyrgall on February 20, 2016 at 11:26AM

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Comments

  • Posted by bd79og February 20, 2016 at 12:53

    Neglect of historic buildings caused by lack of money within the community and the current economic climate is being sometimes enhanced by the public's perception (often real) that the time and money needed to be spent to satisfy the planning and building control constraints in development means that much of our historic environment is left to get to a state when it simply needs to be pulled down. This is when the developer steps in and changes the character of the area.
    How much better it would be if the planning and building permission process was weighted in favour of the individual or community group or even small developer wanting to buy and live in or make little businesses from our old houses before they reach such a state.
    The councils need to have a proactive and approachable system which is easy for those without expensive planning consultants to understand, that is really supportive of the old buildings and relatively cheap for the small project. At the moment it is considerably cheaper to apply to knock down even a listed building and replace it than to prepare plans to repair it in a sympathetic manner with a lot of complicated planning conditions to fulfill let alone the cost of actually doing so.
  • Posted by MaryLeith February 20, 2016 at 18:38

    'One person may own a building, but its existence really belongs to the whole community - ' YES YES YES!
  • Posted by Dunadd4556 February 20, 2016 at 19:04

    A punitive tax on empty property and a reduction of VAT to 5% for refurbishment would be feasible (despite the excuses presented by the treasury) and would galvanize lazy and absentee landlord-owners into action. Crucially, it would tip the balance away from new build and towards refurbishment.
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