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Restriction of power of English Heritage

Comment 5th August 2010

If English Heritage insist on listing a building (or other venue), then they should be required to make a substantial contribution towards maintenance costs.  Also, the whole process of listing should be subject to some form of regulation which would relieve owners of buildings of the stress and cost of such action by EH.

English Heritage should also be fully accountable for its decisions to an appropriate Government Minister.


Why does this matter?


As a non-expert observer (man in the street), it seems to me that English Heritage, that non-elected and as far as I can see, unaccountable, body can just arrive in a place, take a look at a building and slap a listing on it just because one or more of their number reckon that it should be preserved, no matter what the implications of such a decision might be.  In such cases the owners become lumbered with an often overwhelming burden of maintaining the building and EH seems to have the power to insist on maintenance and repair details that are excessively costly.  And should the owner wish to demolish it, this can only be achieved after a very lengthy and costly legal process to get the preservation order overturned.

A crazy example of EH's listing occurred in Plymouth a few years ago in the case of the City Council's Civic Centre building.  This is a post- WW2 multi-storey building which is now is a poor condition, is in many respects no longer fit for purpose, and the City Council were considering having it demolished and rebuilt.  Then EH suddenly, and as far as I am aware, without any warning, listed it, resulting in the City Council being burdened with this great monster – for ever it seems.

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