A “strikingly elegant” office building in the north east of England is set to be demolished after losing its protected status just a year on from being listed. It will be the latest in a series of important modernist buildings in the area to be flattened in recent years.
Heritage minister Tracey Crouch overturned the Grade II listing of the former headquarters of architects Ryder and Yates in Killingworth, North Tyneside earlier this year and removed it from the National Heritage List for England.
The decision to withdraw its protected status came after Ms Crouch decided it was not of special architectural or historic interest for the country and that is likely to pave the way for its demolition.
Historic England released a statement saying it was “disappointed” by the heritage minister’s decision, saying: “We believe this is a fascinating building by the most important post-war architectural practice in the north-east of England.”
It added: “While we appreciate there were problems with the concrete slabs which formed the roof of the building, we believe this is a building which merited listing.”
Both the Twentieth Century Society and the Tyne Wear Building Preservation Trust campaigned to save it. The society said it was a “rare survivor of a post-war purpose built architects’ office designed by the important regional practice of Ryder and Yates”.
Karen Topping, who represents The Twentieth Century Society in the north east, said: “We’ve lost so much architecture of worth since 2009. We’re disappointed but we’re not really that surprised.”
She added: “We feel this is part of a larger story of most of our modernist architecture getting destroyed up here. We feel sad we’ve lost as much as we have and this is just another chapter in this story.”
The office building, opened in 1964, was listed at Grade II in January last year on Historic England’s recommendation alongside 13 other office buildings from the period. This came after North Tyneside Council had granted planning permission to knock it down in 2014.
Gordon Ryder and Peter Yates designed a number of buildings at Killingworth but two – Norgas House and Stephenson House – have already been demolished. Their Engineering Research Station received Grade II* listed status at the turn of the century.
“When we put the office up for listing first in 2010 it was very much as part of a set,” Ms Topping said. “We were pleasantly surprised when it was listed, but not massively surprised when it was delisted,”
The listing system
The protection system has been in place since 1947 and anyone can recommend buildings for designation. For listing body Historic England, previously English Heritage, to advise the Government to give a building protected status it must demonstrate the building is of special architectural or historic interest from a national perspective. It offers a series of 20 guides to listing criteria on its website. Anyone can also recommend a building is delisted if they feel the recommendation was wrong.