Heritage Protection is a controversial field at the best of times. There are almost as many different opinions on a given listing, say, as there are people offering said opinions. It’s difficult for the likes of English Heritage to decide what to protect and what to let go, and it’s certainly not a scientific process. But should we stop getting confused between the things we should be saving, and the events they merely represent?
English Heritage have released a new volume of their ‘Constructive Conservation’ series, this one entitled Sustainable Growth for Historic Places. It’s all about the benefits of re-using historic buildings for new purposes, and the effects not only on the bottom line of the developer, but also the ability of these buildings to attract customers and tourists, and the benefits of creating an attractive and enjoyable place to work in. Read more
There’s a lot of bits of interest dotted around the place at the moment, so tonight I’m going to concentrate on the serious stuff, with a couple of more fun things later in the week!
Understanding your local history
Local groups are some of the most important people to help protect the historic parts of our towns and cities. Along with planners, developers and local government, they have the greatest influence on what happens (or doesn’t happen) to historic buildings.
English Heritage have recognised this in their latest guidance notes called Understanding Place (see the Related Publications link on the right). The documents focus on Historic Area Assessments, which are one method of ‘characterisation’ which aims to assess the significance of a historic place through objective research using maps and other documents (it’s a bit like what I do for Historic Liverpool!).
If you’re part of a community group, or it’s your job to study local history and archaeology in a planning and development context, download the free PDFs from EH’s website.
On a wider scope, English Heritage are also asking for your opinion on the National Heritage Protection Plan (NHPP). There’s a survey linked to from their NHPP web page.
Merger questions for two of Liverpool’s major agencies
Liverpool Vision (public sector body dealing with regeneration) and the Mersey Partnership (part-public funded, concerned with tourism and investment) may merge as part of efficiency savings by Liverpool Council.
A report is being written by Professor Michael Parkinson of John Moores University, after the council’s new leader Joe Anderson ordered a review. The North West Development Agency (NWDA), as major funders of both bodies, are also in support of the report. Anderson said: “I want to make sure we are efficient and delivering the best possible services and that overlaps and duplication are taken out of the system”.
Do you think a merger will have a positive effect on Liverpool? Or will any cuts risk the city’s continued resurgence?
What do you really think of the Mann Island developments? I mean – really? Now’s your chance to let Matt Brook, the man responsible for the “people-orientated approach for design” at Mann Island, know. For more, through-gritted-teeth, details, go to the new Seven Streets website.
They’re article Total Eclipse of the Heart is quite, well, heartfelt too.
There has been a certain amount of interest in my post on re-using Liverpool’s derelict buildings and in particular the derelict tobacco warehouse at Stanley Dock, which many (me included) would like to see regenerated. A few questions remain, such as the problem of too-low ceilings (are they too low? How low is too low?). If this is a problem, are there any other uses to which the huge building could be put (See ‘Stanley Dock Tobacco Warehouse below)?
There is also of course the larger problem of the isolation of the warehouse and other buildings down that part of the city. It’s handy for the town centre, but a little too far to walk, but possibly not worth driving in.
We could sit around here all day discussing the problems of regenerating the warehouse area, but I’d like to keep the focus on the wider issue of the redevelopment and re-use of derelict buildings, of which there are many around Merseyside. There are other cities in the country who have already taken up the challenge. Four of them are mentioned in the English Heritage (EH) publication Making the Most of Your Local Heritage: A Guide for Overview and Scrutiny Committees, downloadable from the HELM website (and which actually has a photo of our own fair city on the cover).
Although the booklet is aimed at those already involved in local heritage and planning issues, any of us can take its advice on how to make the most of our historic landscape and the buildings in it. Of particular interest is Case Study 3, Wolverhampton and Heritage at Risk: Protecting the Irreplacable (can you see where this is going? ;)).
Wolverhampton City Council recognised the considerable potential of redundant historic buildings when in 2004 a scrutiny panel was established to investigate how an increasingly uninhabited historic environment could be used as an effective impetus for regeneration. The review attracted widespread attention amongst the local press and community as the Panel sought to establish how new uses could be found for a significant number of historic buildings…
Their report found that a crucial factor for success was the partnership between the City Council and developers, and recommended a set of character appraisals for important sites and other areas at risk. Could this be a solution for Liverpool? Does Liverpool have a similar process or committee? And what role can local residents play in the absence of such organisations? (Check out the advice for Heritage Champions on the HELM website).
Stanley Dock Tobacco Warehouse
I’ve found an old Liverpool Echo story referring to plans to regenerate the whole warehouse area from Dec 8th 2003, with “1000 building and permanent retail jobs” by 2008. I think we all know what happened to that optimistic scheme. Originally, owners Kitgrove had planned to demolish the building and keep the north west supplied with bricks “for the next decade” (the warehouse is the largest brick building in Europe). Luckily heritage groups and the city council opposed the plans.
Another scheme to regenerate “starting in 2009” was reported in June 2008 (scroll down to Stanley Dock).
A problem both articles mention is that little light manages to make it into the centre of the building, requiring that it be cored out to create a central atrium, something akin to the entrance to World Museum Liverpool. Also the general complexity of the building means options are limited for re-use. Nevertheless, past projects were ambitious: “There will be an exclusion zone on part of the roof to provide a nesting area for peregrine falcons.”
Ownership of buildings in the Liverpool Mercantile City World Heritage Site (see p3): http://www.liverpool.gov.uk/Images/tcm21-32550.pdf
World Heritage Site Management Plan: http://www.liverpool.gov.uk/Leisure_and_culture/Tourism_and_travel/World_heritage_site/Management_plan/index.asp