Demolition fears grow as developers move in on ‘iconic’ Victorian building
Mar 3 2008
by Laura Sharpe, Liverpool Daily Post
FEARS have been raised that one of Liverpool’s architectural gems is being destroyed without planning permission.
Scaffolding, rubble and a skip have appeared outside Josephine Butler House on Hope Street, just over a week before a planning application is due to be heard.
Riverside councillor Steve Munby accused building company Maghull Group Ltd of starting to demolish the 1861 building, which has been put forward for listed building status, before planning consent had been given.
He said: “It’s scandalous they are knocking down the building before the listed building status or planning application is decided.”
Unfortunately, despite Liverpool claiming to have "More Listed buildings than Bath", too many suitable candidates aren't Listed, and there aren't enough people who really care.
English Heritage should be bombarded with local buildings which should be Listed in this COC year, because any building that isn't Listed can be demolished with LCC incapable of doing anything.
The buildings will then remain long after 2008.
It's too late to wait until the building is threatened.
There's another application for the housing development on the site of the (to be demolished) Bedford cinema tomorrow.
In this case, EH won't list it.
Last edited by PhilipG; 03-03-2008 at 11:27 AM.
Josephine Butler House: From what I can see, the yellow brickwork on the front has now been destroyed (by power-tools, by the sound of it).
Oh Dear, COC is going to be known as the year when Liverpool was completely powerless to protect its own buildings, without English Heritage's help.
One good piece of news.
The Jewish Synagogue in Prince's Avenue has been raised to Grade I Listed status.
The highest there is.
when I was in junior school we had a Jewish teacher and she arranged a class trip there to show us a different culture. it was a beautiful building as I recall so that's excellent news.
Originally Posted by PhilipG
Proud Scouser, with a dabbling of Welsh and Irish.
bore yourself silly at my Flickr page
The Josephine Butler building should have had applications to list it earlier, though the ones that have been have been knocked back???? - Why???
I hope Maghull developments do as they say and keep the facade at least.
The front of Josephine Butler House, earlier today:
Proud Scouser, with a dabbling of Welsh and Irish.
bore yourself silly at my Flickr page
From The Times
Liverpool, Capital of Vandalism
The supposed city of culture has in fact been pulling down its great Victorian buildings
March 8, 2008
Amid the elegant Georgian terraces that run off Hanover Street, rising up the hill from Canning Dock, you can still get a sense of Liverpool's mercantile past: a lost age of transatlantic trade, civic pride and merchant princes. And just as Liverpool celebrates this proud heritage as European Capital of Culture, the council is cynically signing off on agreeing to the demolition of three of these Grade II listed houses - numbers 68, 70 and 72 Seel Street - for a shoddy new development. Learning nothing from its postwar history, Merseyside is in danger of turning into the Capital of Dereliction as town hall leaders sanction another assault on its architectural fabric.
By far the most elegiac and anger-inducing publication of recent months has been Gavin Stamp's Britain's Lost Cities. Stamp painfully outlines the postwar loss of Britain's urban civilisation and, in doing so, nails the lie that the German Luftwaffe was primarily responsible. Instead, it was the love of the motor car, rise of the town planner, arrival of Le Corbusier's Continental Modernism and an ugly animus for history that did for our regional centres.
“Behind all this,” Stamp writes of England's northern cities, “there was a sense of shame about the industrial past, a visceral and blinkered rejection of the dark but substantial legacy of the Victorians that could amount to little more than civic self-hatred and which resulted in relentless destruction.” Sadly, that shame still lingers.
From Plymouth to Coventry, Glasgow to Worcester, grandiose city plans were published that bulldozed the old and, in its place, laid out arterial roads, car parks, mass-production housing and shopping centres. “Cities must be extricated from their misery, come what may,” came Le Corbusier's battle cry. “Whole quarters of them must be destroyed and new cities built.” And so in Birmingham, the Central Library, Pugin's Bishop's House and the Market Hall fell victim to the Inner Ring Road. In Hull, almost all the dock warehouses, Georgian chapels and Victorian churches were destroyed in the name of postwar regeneration. But few cities suffered as much as Liverpool.
Between August 9, 1940, and May 9, 1941, Merseyside endured 68 air raids gutting much of the historic neighbourhood surrounding the docks. By far the worst architectural victim was John Foster's Greek revival Custom House, a testament to Liverpool's 19th-century ambition to play the Athens of the North: a city of commerce and culture reflected in an uniformly classical urban aesthetic. But rather than rebuilding this shattered civic icon, the postwar planners opted for demolition. It was a decision that set the tone for the ensuing decades of planning terror as dock warehouses, stuccoed Regency houses and elegant piazzas fell victim to the ring-roads and clearances.
Fifty years on, now that Liverpool basks in its status as Capital of Culture, one might have thought the demolitions would ease up. Yet rather than commemorating its extraordinary civic inheritance, the planners are repeating the mistakes of their postwar predecessors. For as Liverpool's prosperity accelerates, the council is still prone to dismiss its marvellous historic fabric as an impediment to growth.
Under the past ten years of control by the Liberal Democrats, some 36 listed buildings have been lost to the bulldozers. Whereas Merseyside once enjoyed a Georgian building stock comparable to Bath, what little remains is now under threat. In addition to the terraces of Seel Street, there are numerous properties in Duke Street, Dale Street and Great George Square - as well as such listed landmark churches as St Luke's, Berry Street and St Andrew's - equally at risk. And that is excluding the Toxteth terraces and Welsh Street houses that remain under planning blight.
The difference this time is that the threat comes as much from property developers, whose lawyers and bully-boy chicanery runs rings round council officers, as grandiose redevelopment schemes. But the results are the same as buildings slip into disrepair, night-time demolitions “happen” and inexplicable planning permissions are granted.
Unfairly, Liverpool has often been accused of wallowing in the past. If only it did. Today what every successful city requires, in the competition for new businesses and graduate residents, is a sense of place and authenticity that can only come from the historic fabric, architecture and attitude of its streets and spaces. The postwar redevelopment of Merseyside did everything it could to destroy that civic identity. If the choice facing the Capital of Culture this year is between the 1820s and 1950s, then it must save the Georgian terraces and ease up on any more Modernist monstrosities.
Tristram Hunt is author of Building Jerusalem: The Rise and Fall of the Victorian City
Source: Times Online
£100m Hope Street regeneration plan at risk after listing row
Mar 12 2008
by David Bartlett, Liverpool Daily Post
A MAJOR £100m development, in Liverpool’s historic Hope Street, was dealt a blow yesterday after the city’s planning committee said it was minded to refuse a key element.
Maghull Developments was seeking permission for four applications in the street, but had angered councillors by “hacking off the front” of Josephine Butler House last week after campaigners had requested it be listed.
Couldn't agree more. Considering the criteria listing status has to meet, I wonder how properties suddenly become de-listed and demolished so easily. There should be something in place whereby if a property is given listed status, the owners then have a given amount of time to bring it upto scratch (if it isn't already) and cannot allow it to fall into disrepair (in which case it automatically falls into the hands of the council)
Paul 'the Gardens' (A member here) and I were showing the Gardens of Stone film to an audience again last night, and they couldn't get over how communities and buildings were just bulldozed in the name of 'progress' which more often than not just means new road schemes. Council residents have long been cannon fodder, the 2nd Mersey tunnel crossing could well have been at Aigburth if it weren't for the anticipated objections and legal wrangling overs CPO's which were not a problem in the north end. Flyovers, internal mini motoways, 6 lane dual carriageways - the time machine scenario where everything was demolished and rebuilt and all of a sudden all this new major traffic with the world and his dog passing your door.
The ropewalks area should be retained, or at least the facades (like I notice they're doing with a block on Seel St) at all costs and if that means telling developers that that's what they've got to do then so be it.
One of the biggest crimes was to demolish Emmanual-Everton on West Derby Road for the new inner ring road.
What happened? The inner ring road was shot and this is now an empty piece of land.
I passed Josephine Butler House a couple of times, and they were trying to smash as much as they could. Yesterday and today, the workmen had vanished. They had managed to smash two sides of the building and left a couple of piles of yellow bricks on the floor. What they couldn't remove, such as large sand-stone blocks around the entrance, they just drilled chunks out of. This shows what kind of developer Maghull Developments are. All perfecly legal, of course.
Seel Street: I noticed one of the Listed Buildings has gone completely, and a couple of others look like they'll be next (the ones surrounded by red steel supports)
I thought those red steel supports were to keep the facades up whilst rebuilding the rears.
There doesn't seem much left of those buildings on Seel Street. I was there on Sunday, when one had gone completely. The other 2 still had some of the facade standing. Time to get one last look of those buildings.
I got them on sat. Look better from the rear actually as that steelwork just obscures them.
City ‘no’ on £100m dream for Hope St
Mar 12 2008
by Nick Coligan, Liverpool Echo
A MULTI-million pound plan to transform Liverpool’s Hope Street has been dealt a massive blow.
Councillors said they wanted to reject a crucial part of a £100m scheme to create new flats, shops, offices and a boutique hotel in the historic city centre road yesterday.
They were unhappy with a proposal to demolish Josephine Butler House, at the same junction as the Philharmonic Hall, and replace it with shops and offices.
Owner Maghull Developments sparked anger by starting to demolish the existing building last week, when heritage campaigners still hoped to have it listed.
This attack on the Josephine Butler House comes hot on the heels of the hammering away at the facade of the former Bedford Cinema at Christmas.
The Chair of the Planning Committee said he was "Bloody annoyed" at the destruction of the Bedford, which sounded like strong language to me.
However, English Heritage wouldn't list the Bedford, and now won't list the JB House, and, as we've learned, unListed buildings can be demolished at any time.
All the Planning Committee can do is refuse the application, and even if they refuse the application for the Bedford site it looks like it's going to be an empty plot after Easter.
Those 3 Listed Buildings in Seel Street have now all been demolished.
The changing face of Liverpool
Mar 22 2008
by Peter Elson, Liverpool Daily Post
With Liverpool undergoing huge regeneration, Peter Elson meets the men deciding the balance between redevelopment and preserving our heritage.
NEW town blues was a phase in popular use a few decades ago to describe the despair those poor residents felt about being shipped out of old towns to live in planned developments.
The only problems about these postwar urban utopias for their decanted populations were their inevitable isolation and, more visibly, their completely soulless atmosphere and utterly bland appearance.
What difference between Runcorn or Harlow? Kirkby or Cumbernauld?
How lucky for those that remained behind to continue enjoying the buzz and vibrant personality of a great city like Liverpool, where its many layers of development sit cheek-by-jowel, accumulated over several centuries.
There was no chance that a new town, built from scratch in a few years, could possibly accumulate the richness and diversity of a long-established city created on a piecemeal basis.
But old towns are far from immune from having their buildings redeveloped and replaced.
They, too, can suffer from a new syndrome related to new town blues, namely clone-town Britain, in which everywhere in the country is now resembling everywhere else due to comprehensive redevelopment.
And Liverpool is now joining this trend at a rapid pace. As the city has enjoyed an economic revival, developers have arrived chasing the money.
Nothing like this has been seen in the previous three decades. Missing out on the 1980s Thatcherite economic revival due to the Militant Labour council’s policies, you have to go back to the mid-1960s – early 1970s for a comparable upheaval in the city’s redevelopment.
Commentators have joked that Militant’s deputy council leader Derek Hatton by default did more for Liverpool’s conservation than any other figure.
Everybody is far from happy about this headlong rush to grab swathes of elderly buildings. All too soon these are reduced to rubble and replaced with bland glass, steel and concrete buildings in a style dubbed “cowshed architecture”.
There is far-ranging concern by groups such as Merseyside Civic Society that Liverpool’s hard-won (and potentially priceless) accolade as a World Heritage Site could be lost by reckless redevelopment.
One of the most vocal opponents is Wayne Colquhoun, founder and chairman of Liverpool Preservation Trust, who conducted a walk for the Daily Post around what he feared is the city’s most threatened Georgian building stock.
Keen to reassure the panicking public that all is not lost – or sinking fast into oblivion – Nigel Lee, Liverpool’s planning manager, and Henry Owen-John, English Heritage’s north west planning and development director, based in Manchester, requested a similar opportunity.
“I’m comfortable with looking after the city’s essential characteristics, looking at how you preserve significant buildings as well as accommodating new development,” states Nigel.
“Trying to keep the urban townscape while meeting the new office standards is very difficult. Often ceilings in old buildings are too low to take all the services now needed and it’s a big job finding new uses.
“We’ve seen Tower Buildings and the Albany go over to flat use and Westminster Chambers in Dale Street is undergoing restoration, but we need to keep supply and demand stable.”
Starting off from the council’s Millennium House, Dale Street (which contains Nigel’s office), we agree this is a successful refurbishment of old facades (including the former Daily Post office) with new infills.
Unfortunately, round the corner in Sir Thomas Street we’re immediately faced with what many Liverpudlians consider a catastrophic blunder.
Liverpool’s last complete street of Victorian office facades was forever spoilt when developer Illiad was allowed by both city council and English Heritage to demolish No 6, leaving a great gaping hole.
However, soon after conservationists called for English Heritage to reassess the situation, the building’s decorative stonework was mutilated , as witnessed by city council leader Cllr Warren Bradley, from his office opposite.
Illiad intend to insert a trendy glass-fronted atrium onto No 6’s site as part of its plan to create a new hotel which includes the former Municipal Annexe.
“We’d come to the initial conclusion that No 6 was not listable, as it’s the only brick facade in a row of stone ones,” says Henry.
“We agreed to demolition and then received request for a spot-listing, which is very difficult to deal with late in the day.
“The connectivity between the buildings is difficult and we understand Illiad’s problem with the old structure on this sloping sight and how a new building would resolve it.”
He denies that English Heritage bureaucrats are too slow to get off the mark, while quick-thinking developers run rings around them.
Nigel, who comes from Tuebrook and pledges his deep devotion to Liverpool, says: “You’ve got to go back 10 years and remember how dilapidated and derelict buildings were. We were losing historic buildings all over the show.”
Henry adds: “Some regeneration schemes are not to everyone’s taste, but we were actually losing old buildings because nobody was coming forward with schemes. Now we’re dealing with the problems of success.”
Henry extracts a piece of paper on which he has laboriously written out criticisms of the Royal Liver Building when new. Neil Gladstone despises it as “monstrous” and Prof Charles Reilly complains of its “lack of harmony”. Previously Sir James Picton dismissed Albert Dock as “a naked pile of bricks”.
What is Henry’s purpose in this? He says: “Major change will always be controversial and few people will share their views now.”
Yet if Gladstone, Picton and Reilly knew about Liverpool’s widespread redevelopment they’d be spinning faster in their graves than gas turbines on full throttle.
The Pier Head is undergoing fundamental change as the controversial new Museum of Liverpool rears up Leviathan-like, along with a new Mersey Ferries riverfront block. The new canal link across it removes vital public green space.
Both the new Museum scheme and ferries block, already completely transforming the city’s world famous river frontage, only went through on the casting vote of Lady Doreen Jones, the former planning committee chair.
The Museum scheme involved demolition of Voss Motors, Mann Island, by Herbert Rowse, Liverpool’s most talented and famous architect.
“It wasn’t one of his best buildings and couldn’t be incorporated into the new scheme,” says Henry. “We’ve worked hard to keep important sight-lines between new buildings,” explains Henry.
In fact, it’s incredible this was allowed to happen. The English Heritage-listed Mersey Railway pumping station is untouchable in the midst of the scheme which will see three black-granite clad apartment blocks rear up on Mann Island.
If so much as a potting shed by architects Wren or Lutyens were touched in southern England there would be hysteria in the national press.
The new Liverpool of towering high rise has not been kept away from the historic city core, as in London, at Canary Wharf.
Meanwhile, Grosvenor’s vast Liverpool One retail development and regeneration around the Ropewalks/Duke Street area put increasing pressure on another area of historic properties.
“We’re very concerned about this. I get very angry and frustrated with the big property owners who don’t respond to our advice and warnings and are determined to go-ahead with their schemes,” says Nigel.
He chews his gum harder than ever and says: “I feel like a spinning top. If I advise refusal of permission to redevelop, the Daily Post business pages accuse me of stifling regeneration.
“If I give the go-ahead to new schemes then the conservationists are jumping up and down accusing me of destroying Liverpool’s heritage. It’s a no-win situation.”
Source: Liverpool Daily Post
1. Hillfoot Lodge Camphill Road built 1840. 2. Ashton Square Woolton built late 1700s. Even the cobbles on the footpath are listed!
Last edited by Chris48; 03-22-2008 at 09:28 AM.
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D-Day for decision on controversial demolition of historic building to make way for shops and offices
Apr 8 2008
by David Bartlett, Liverpool Daily Post
COUNCILLORS will today decide whether to stop the demolition of a historic Liverpool building for the creation of a retail and office development.
Last month angry members of Liverpool’s planning committee said they were minded to refuse Maghull Developments permission to demolish Josephine Butler House, at the junction of Myrtle Street and Hope Street.
Campaigners lose battle to save historic city centre building
Apr 9 2008
by Ben Schofield, Liverpool Daily Post
A HISTORIC Myrtle Street building will be flattened after a £60m development was finally rubber stamped for the site yesterday.
Josephine Butler House – a former laying-in hospital dating back to 1867 – will be replaced with a six-storey block of offices, shops and restaurants.
The proposed building was yesterday labelled by heritage campaigners as more befitting for Milton Keynes than Liverpool’s Georgian quarter.
Listing status scuppers plan for student flats
Apr 9 2008
by Ben Schofield, Liverpool Daily Post
PLANNERS yesterday threw out an application to demolish the Gregson Memorial Institute on Garmoyle Road, Wavertree after the building was granted Grade II listing in February.
Trustees of the building had applied to knock it down and build 20 one-bedroom student flats in its place. But the Department for Culture Media and Sport listed the building on advice from English Heritage.
English Heritage’s report pointed to its eclectic style, individual design and rich interior decor.
It says the Gregson can boast Old English, Arts & Crafts, and Baroque influences.
It was built in 1895 by designer A P Fry who was commissioned by Isabella Gregson. It is thought Isabella was the granddaughter of Matthew Gregson, who helped develop the Blue Coat School, the Liverpool Library and the Botanic Gardens.
Source: Liverpool Daily Post
Vulcan Street warehouse (on the Dock Road) has been Listed. The Liverpool Echo states it was one of the first fire-proof buildings built.
Originally Posted by Ged
I've Googled Rob Ainsworth and found the above.
I didn't know your famous photo of St George's Place had been issued as a postcard?
Last edited by PhilipG; 06-19-2008 at 06:26 PM.
To add my twopence worth to this interesting thread...
People may wonder, generally-speaking, why so many listed buildings can be de-listed and demolished.
English Heritage deal with planning-related matters relating to Grade I and II* listings only. That means that thier considerable weight and influence generaly can not be brought to bear with regard to Grade II listed building applications.
The fact is that matters concerning Grade II listed buildings are dealt with by the local authority i.e. the local district or city council. As Grade II listings make up approximately 90% of all designated buildings nationwide, the majority of listed building applications for alteration or demolition are dealt with by these authorities. However, it should be common practice for the local council, through their conservation teams, to at least inform EH of any proposals regarding the treatment of Grade II buildings, particularly if demolition is proposed.
The treatment of listed and historic buildings should be embedded in policy in the Local Plan. I havent checked the Liverpool City Local Plan, or the plans of the adjacent Borough Councils, but local policy towards the protection of listed buildings should be similar from plan to plan, given the statutory designation. If planning consent for listed building demolitions are happening in a relatively short space of time on a large scale, questions need to be asked about either the robustness, or otherwise, of local policy, or how much the council planning committees are listening to their own Conservation Teams. Evidently not much in this case, I'd wager. However, Liverpool is perhaps unique in being a place where there has been large-scale dereliction and neglect over the years, sending many buildings past the point of no return in times when large-scale re-development was rare (i.e the 70s and 80s). Not being familiar with the buildings mentioned on this thread so far, I'm not in a postion to comment.
Many local councils have policies for the protection of non-statutorily designated buildings. These are commonly referred to as Locally Listed buildings. The local list can include historic buildings that have failed to make the EH criteria of listing, but are worthy of protection in the planning process. Again, their treatment depends on the robustness of policy in the Local Plan. It would be interesting to know if Liverpool CC have a local list, and if so how far they test planning applications for alteration and demolition against their policy for them.
If any local authority Conservation Officer wants to step in here and clarify things, please do so. Although I am a heritage professional, I have to say listed and historic buildings are not my area of expertise!
Get stuck in, guys and gals.......
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